Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Advent and the Newtown Killings

Advent is that four week period when we wait in anxious anticipation of the birth of Christ on Christmas morning. In Advent of 2012, our wait seems in vain.

How can we celebrate the birth of a child when the lives of twenty children and seven adults have so cruelly been taken? How can we reconcile the birth of a Savior 2000 years ago with the presence of such terrible evil in the world today? How can any God worth believing in allow such a nightmare to take place?

And yet, perhaps Advent is the time when we are best able to confront this horror. Advent, after all, is not really about waiting for the birth of a child. That child was born a long time ago. Advent is about waiting for the second coming of Christ.

The second coming of Christ refers to the next manifestation of the Word Eternal, the light that shines in the darkness and that the darkness cannot overcome (John 1:5). If there was ever a time when we need such a light, it is now.

The light of The Word will reveal the Kingdom of Heaven, that time of universal peace when we “beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4).” When “the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6).

How long will God make us wait for the unveiling of this Kingdom? That isn’t up to God. It is up to us. As Jesus told us, “the kingdom of God is among you. (Luke 17:21)” In other words, God’s part is done. Our part is what awaits completion.

God does not promise us a life without evil. The Bible is filled with stories of terrible evil being visited upon the most holy of innocents. What God promises us is the ability to transform even the worst evil into the greatest good. That evil that unfolded on December 14 will not be transformed into good by Christmas morning 2012. But it will be transformed, if we have the collective will to make it so.

That is the promise of Advent.

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