A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Friday, December 14, 2012

Our Advent Cry - In Response to the Elementary School Shooting

As we listen to the news regarding the tragic killing of children and adults at an elementary school in Connecticut, we are painfully reminded that we live in a broken and hurting world.  The Christmas specials on TV, the gift wrapping of presents, the staff Christmas parties, the caroling, and the preparing of Christmas cards are now seen in a much larger perspective, the perspective of a world in need of redemption.

The recent shooting in a Portland, Oregon shopping mall during the middle of the Christmas shopping season is still fresh in our minds.  What causes people to do such wickedness?

During the four weeks leading up to Christmas Eve, many churches observe what is known as the Advent Season.  Advent is a time to help us prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. It is equally a time to help us prepare for his second coming when the world  will be completely renewed and made whole as God had always intended. Many churches and Christians bypass Advent and go straight to Christmas.  A friend of mine said that he was visiting in a church the Sunday before Thanksgiving and they were already singing Christmas carols!

Advent is a time of longing for a better world, a world that is filled with God's justice, love, and peace. On Christmas Eve, we will sing "Joy to the World," but not now.  During this season each year, we hear scriptures which speak of that time when God's people were sent into exile. We also hear prophets like Isaiah who offer words of hope that God has not forsaken them and will fulfill his promises for a better world.

The people of Israel who were living in exile waited in hope for God to bring them home.  The Season of Advent helps us to wait in hope especially as our hearts our broken over the senseless killings of innocent people in an elementary school. Like the people of Israel, we wait knowing that one day, God will make all things new.  One day, this world will be a place where there will be no more shootings, no more pain, no more suffering, no more sin, and no more death.

A manger holding a crying baby in Bethlehem will be a sign that the Savior has come into our broken and hurting world.  We will celebrate that wondrous event just days from now.

But for now, it's Advent. We cry, we pray, and we wait with hope.

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