I’m listening to one baby try to settle into a nap and another one start to wake up and enjoying just a few minutes with my coffee. It’s really a gift – a few minutes. When I complain to Mom about how difficult it is to accomplish anything she says, “I spent 20 years of my life being interrupted all the time.” I’m learning to be interruptible and trying so hard to be graciously interruptible.
Just like everyone else I have been thinking so much about the terrible tragedy in Connecticut and crying over the sweet school-yard faces of the children that were killed. Wondering how in the world their parents are coping and feeling the injustice of it all – anger that has no outlet or voice. Everyone wants to say something – feels the need – to express some kind of outrage or opinion or grief. From our president to my blogging friends, we all need to somehow express the sorrow we feel.
And, like others, I can’t help but draw some kind of distant parallel to the slaughter that is part of the Christmas story but no one ever wants to include in their Nativity scenes. All the babies from zero to two killed. My Judah is not yet two. He would have been among the dead, as also this other little one God has given us.
I can imagine a mother, weeping over the toddling, starting-to-talk, little boy who was viciously hacked to death by Herod’s soldier, crying out in anger and rage and incurable grief. “Why?” I can imagine her trying to find a voice to express the depth of her sorrow and I wonder if she would have said, “Who cares about some random, supposed savior? I want my son back.”
Christmas is wonderful and it is tragic. I feel that tension. I feel the grief of those families – grief that was never fully healed, even years later. I feel their anger that they should have to suffer because of someone else’s jealousy, someone else’s son, and Someone Else’s Plan.
At the end of our little Advent liturgy each evening we say, “Come, Lord Jesus,” before we blow out the candles. Judah is captivated. He walks around the house saying, “Come, Jesus; Come, Jesus; Come, Jesus.” I love to hear it, but I feel its weight too. One day, not too long from now, we will tell him that Jesus’ birth also involved the slaughter of many babies. That will become part of his understanding of this Jesus that we love and fear.
I love the song, “Oh Holy Night.” Every year, for some reason, a particular carol will stand out to me and its tune and poetry will mark my days as I walk through Advent and Christmas and Epiphany. I feel keenly the truth of these words and the tension of them. I cry tears of gratitude and I feel fear as well – fear of the Savior whose coming brought such terror, and love. The world is still weary, as it was in Herod’s unfathomable cruelty. “Come, Jesus.”
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!