Monday, December 17, 2012

Advent Interrupted

Leon Cogniet, 1794-1880,
Massacre of the Innocents


Yesterday, the third Sunday of Advent, we all just wanted to celebrate Christmas coming.

We are like the three wise men from the East, eagerly seeking the star and the Savior.

Yet on the way to Bethlehem, King Herod interrupts our journey, ultimately slaughtering the innocent children in Bethlehem in his quest to destroy the Prince of Peace.

You can read the story in Matthew 2.  And you can read the daily news.  There are Herods all around us.  Wise men, too.

And so our music is melancholy and quiet at times.  This advent, we wait not only an infant in a manger, and we wait not only for who he grew to be, the Redeemer who died on the cross to set us free from our sins.   In this world of darkness and sorrow, we await his return as the powerful King of Kings, who will set this world forever free from all injustice and violence. We await the heavenly Kingdom, while we still actively seek to right the wrongs we see around us every day.  May his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

(Click here if you don't see the video above.)

"Come, Oh Redeemer Come"
Words and Music by Fernando Ortega

Father enthroned on high, Holy, Holy

Ancient, eternal Light, Hear our prayer.
     Come, oh Redeemer, come, grant us mercy.
     Come, oh Redeemer, come, grant us peace.

Lord, save us from the dark of our striving,
Faithless and troubled hearts, weighed down.
     Come, oh Redeemer, come, grant us mercy.
     Come, oh Redeemer, come, grant us peace.

Look now upon our need, Lord be with us.
Heal us and make us free from our sin.
     Come, oh Redeemer, come, grant us mercy.
     Come, oh Redeemer, come, grant us peace.

A few more thoughts for the 21st century, hopefully simmered in grace over the weekend since I do not like to speak too quickly.  So many words pouring forth over the Internet about the tragedy in Newtown on Friday.  My first inkling was an electronic billboard with Breaking News on the way home from a day at SeaWorld with my family.   Shock, of course, and grief.  And the questions: Why?  How?  What now?

I am not going to jump on the why and how bandwagon.  I've seen far too many pronouncements from preachers and Christian political pundits and die-hard home school proponents, with the gist of "What can we expect since we banned God from public schools?"  Oh please!  When a gunman shoots up a church congregation, what can we blame then?  (And since when can God be shut out of any place?  He can go where he wants.  He is certainly in public schools anyway since through the Holy Spirit he indwells so many of the students and employees there.  That is part of the message of Advent: He is Emmanuel, God-With-Us wherever we are.)   This is not about public schools, and it's not the time to make parents feel guilty and fearful for their educational choices.  I will say about what now: This is a time to grieve with the parents and children of Newtown, not promote our own agendas.  I could write a lot more about this, but instead I'd like to offer several well-reasoned blog posts that say it much better than I ever could: 


Yes, there will be a time for analysis and action about violence, mental illness, school security, gun laws.  Tragedies like this are a catalyst for change, but let us not stop when the initial shock is no longer there to propel us.  If we want to follow the example of Jesus, we will continue to enter our world in quiet and compassionate ways, always seeking to redeem and renew, first in our own personal sphere of influence and then beyond.  Let us start by holding our children close and telling them how much we love them.
Come, oh Redeemer, come, grant us mercy.

Come, oh Redeemer, come, grant us peace.

Peace to you and your family,
Virginia Knowles


  1. You make a wise point about God allowing bloodshed to paint the landscape surrounding the birth of his son. Jesus himself said it later, "I've come not to bring peace, but a sword." The battle between good and evil will continue to wage until the Prince of Peace returns. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

  2. Thanks for the reminder about Herod's bloodshed after the birth of Jesus. That's something we often disconnect from the Christmas story.


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