The terrible massacre of children and adults at the Newtown, Connecticut Sandy Hook School, would be terrible and shocking any time of the year, but it seems extra traumatic at this time of Christmas. The airwaves have been full of reflections on why this has happened. President Obama, and many others have issued calls to do something about it so it never happens again.
As I look at all this my first reaction is to turn away. To not see! But I am praying, “Come Holy Spirit let me see deeply.” As a parent and grandparent of children the age of some of those who were murdered, I am making myself look at the pictures of those grieving parents. That is especially difficult for me because my own son Stephen barely escaped getting killed in a shooting at a YWAM base in Colorado in 2007; he still suffers from post-traumatic stress. Laura I could well have been those grieving parents. I am also praying that I can look at the pictures of Adam Lanza. That one is hard too because I have seen that look in other young people who are lonely, alienated and disturbed. I have also seen it in those who are mentally ill and/or demonized.
At first I am hopeless in the face of such evil and despair, but I am asking the Holy Spirit to let me see. To see deeply, because out of seeing is often born truth as well as vision for how Jesus is calling us to be a part of His answer to such evil in the world. In seeing we may be led not into a pietistic retreat but into the world, cooperating with Jesus Christ in overcoming evil.
As I struggle, and as the Holy Spirit is letting me see, I am led back to the only place I have to go – back to the Bible and to the original Christmas story. Frankly, where else can we go? Where else can we find hope both for the grieving parents and for the young man with the troubled eyes?
In the Christmas story, I find, along with the comforting account of the newborn baby Jesus laying in a manger, shepherds watching their flocks by night, angel choirs from on high and wise men following the star, a jarring note of evil.
In Matthew 2:16-18 we read:
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged. He sent men to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under, according to the time he had learned from the wise men.
Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud wailing, Rachel weeping for her children, and she did not want to be comforted, because they were gone.”
Just like this Christmas massacre of innocent children, we find a reminder that evil is real and haunts humanity no matter what the season
Here is evil, raw and terrible! And why is it part of the Christmas Story? When the Scripture names Ramah. I replace that with “Newtown” and “Rachel” with the names of those mothers and fathers bereft of their children.
I believe that in these horrible events we see the revelation of the nature of realty: human sinfulness in collusion with the realm of the Satanic, resulting in evil. This evil results in the loss of innocent lives and we see the power of death over life, peace and love.
When we see such evil where are we to go? There is no other place that we can go except to Jesus Christ. Herod’s attempt to kill the baby Jesus after His birth, clearly reveals Jesus, the Word became flesh, entered into an evil world. He did this to provide us both a way of eternal life and the only hope of overcoming the evil that flows from the human heart and from demonic powers.
This Christmas let’s look at the whole Christmas story because only then will we be able to find hope in the face of death, as well as clear vision of how we are called to be a part of advancing the Kingdom of Jesus Christ . Jesus defeats the devil and overcomes evil and death with life everlasting. This is the good news of Christmas and what we celebrate on Dec. 25th and every day as followers of the King!
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