A Christmas Lament

The overlooked dark side of Christmas resonates with the pain and loss of San Bernardino, yet brings us more deeply into the true hope and comfort of Advent

Massacre of the Innocents-Rubens

O Come Emmanuel, Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine Advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight

In the midst of joy to the world and hark the herald angels sing
In the midst of employee seminar/Christmas lunch, taking pictures by the tree, ten minute break
Shots rip flesh and fourteen families apart

Blood pooling on the floor, water pouring from fire sprinklers, wails of agony
War comes to sleepy San Bernardino, much like it came to Pearl Harbor, December 7th seventy four years ago

Much like it came to Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago
In the midst of infants nursing, babies cooing
Learning to walk, climb, live this new-every-moment life

Herod the King, in his raging, Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight, All children young, to slay
Then woe is me, poor Child, for Thee, And ever mourn and say;
For Thy parting, nor say nor sing, Bye, bye, lully, lullay

Rachel weeping for her children
Mary running for her child’s life
Far from family, doesn’t speak the language, refugees raising their first child
Alone in Egypt

One moment it is a Christmas gathering, December 7th, O little town of Bethlehem
the next, it is jihadi terror, sunken, smoking December 8th, soldiers thundering back to Jerusalem, baby-blood on their swords
One moment Mary sings the Magnificat, “my soul magnifies the Lord…”
the next, Joseph doesn’t believe her, decides to divorce her, months of shame, gossip
no room in the inn, born in a barn, God where are you?
The prophecy… Mary, a sword will pierce your heart
She had no idea

Like us, Mary celebrates the major theme of Christmas: angels, glad tidings, great joy
Overshadowed, overcoming
Messiah! Deliverance, love triumphant
But real life brings the minor theme–brokenness, loss, violence, sin, death
Soaked into the very fabric of this fallen world

We weep, we mourn, we fly the flags at half-mast
Christmas is lament for all that is lost and broken
Weeping that knows the pain and endures for the night
But joy comes in the morning

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings

God can fix this.

He weaves the minor theme right into his  miracle story of angels, incarnation, virgin birth, shepherds and wisemen

He purposely enters the pain to redeem it

He soothes the broken-hearted with his presence and peace
He breaks the power of evil where we invite him in
And he will come for us

Not simply with a fix, no bandaids or baling wire

But with a new beginning–love, justice, beauty, adventure beyond belief

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King
No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love

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