ADVENT AND THE GUNMAN
The season of Advent is traditionally a time of anticipation and waiting. With joyous exhortation or monotone chanting or agonized mummers, two centuries of Christ followers have prepared for Christmas by praying, Come Lord Jesus, Come. This prayer, uttered with varying amounts of confidence and desperation, actually speaks of two comings.
Advent surely looks back to the time God entered time, a moment in history when the Creator of the universe became a bloody babe borne in pain to a poor unmarried Jewish woman. When we utter, “Come Lord Jesus,” we remind ourselves the bright lights and outlandish materialism have little to do with the Incarnated Christ’s birth. Rather, His birth and death and resurrection are His gracious gifts to us—God’s triumph over evil and death.
But Advent also looks forward to His coming again, a second entry into time that signals time’s end. Living as we do between these comings, we are forced to imagine a future when, “the lion and the lamb lay down together in peace” because our present world cannot be mistaken for this promised future.
As I write these words it is two days after the Sandy Hook, Conn shootings. I’m struggling to lean into Advent, to hear again the hope of both comings while my mind remains filled by the horror of slaughtered innocents. I cannot fathom how or what to pray for those Connecticut parents. What possible comfort, God-given or otherwise, could salve these families whose tears drench the cold earth and who listen in vain for children’s voices lost in swirling silence.
Reflecting on unspeakable suffering, Elie Weisel said, “Words, they die on our lips.” I’m mute. I lack the words or ideas or arguments that explain any relationship between the creator God and this “in-between world” so full of injustice and hate. I have no answers for these “Why” questions.
Yet, it was into such a harsh world that Christ first came–the fulfillment of His promise to unconditionally love His creatures and creation in spite of their brokenness. It is when I look back, when I remember the first Advent, when I acknowledge in a particular place and time Emanuel came that I can find the barest spot of solid ground. And from this shaky footing I see only the faintest silhouette of hope, but a hope illumined by that single bright star. This Advent I stand in the shadows silently listening for His steps. This Advent I can only mummer, “Come Lord Jesus, Come.” Quickly.