This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. (Luke 2)
I have to find comfort here — in the baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger. The absurdity and simplicity brings peace. “Peace on earth,” the angels said. They said he is “Savior,” the Messiah.
But the morning after the shooting of 20 school children and 8 adults in a small Connecticut town, is “peace on earth” really possible?
I’ve read stories of the selfless school principal who entered the line of fire, the brave teachers who locked their students in closets and bathrooms, the terrified children who cried and said, “I don’t want to die, I just want Christmas.” They have become the unwilling cast of players in this drama we share as a nation. As the story unfolds, mothers, fathers, siblings, teachers, spouses watch with deep sadness and grief.
photo from USAToday on-line
Oh, I can’t imagine the pain those families must be feeling. A knife-piercing, iron-searing pain that severs life and hope and joy. The questions swirling, unanswered, would hound me, refusing me rest… or comfort. I would want to wrap myself in a blanket and just cry. I would want my husband to wrap his arms around me and just squeeze.
I know what it’s like to have questions hovering in the air. I know a bit of the pain of unjust and unexplained bleeding… but this… this tragedy… is just so sad.
It reminds me of another sad story that occurred at the time of Jesus’ birth. The gospel of Matthew records a paranoid King Herod who orders the killing of all the boys in Bethlehem two years old and younger in an attempt to wipe out “the one who has been born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2). Voices “weeping and great mourning” filled the air that time, too. In the words of Victor Hugo, “there’s a grief that can’t be spoken, a pain goes on and on” because the emptiness that follows death refuses comfort.
So even though words fail to bring explanation and sense to this tragedy, I do know One who can offer hope. In a world crowded with infomercials and annoying ring-tones, where everything but silent nights and herald angels seems possible, the message of Christmas still needs to echo through.
Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born TO YOU; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2)
Oh Jesus, enter our world, our pain, our questions, and bring your saving grace. We are a mess without you, hopelessly lost. Wrap us in the cloth of your birth — and your death — so we can know you, and be known by you.
Thank you for coming to our world, and for staying. You are all we want for Christmas.