Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas in Connecticut

How can the children who survived, the parents of those who died, the teachers, the community, or anyone in the nation have Christmas now?  Who can sing "Fa La La La La" with a straight face?  Who can light candles, receive presents, attend a worship service?  Who can bear to read about peace on earth and good will to men?

The reactions today have been as swift as they have been predictable.  Prayers for the families.  Psychological explanations.  Exasperated calls for gun control and exasperated replies that the only reason this criminal could do what he did was that he was a "gun free zone." 

Questions.  Questions.  Questions.

Asking "why" is normal.  It does not get us very far. 

I can ask why these children were gunned down.  I can ask why drunks drive and wars rage.  I can ask why shooters shoot and why abusers strike. 

But, eventually, we have to move past these questions about symptoms.  Sooner or later, we realize that asking why these bad people have done bad things... or even why apparently decent people have done bad things... leads to a much more basic premise.

I have seen this more basic issue - the disease - raised in different places today.  "Our world has gone mad...."  "What is wrong with us?"  "Evil is rampant....." We live in a world full of bad people ... and decent people who do bad things. 

The answer to this question is not universal health care, social security, gun control, reduction in taxes, capitalism, patriotism, more government, or less government.  The answer is not political because the problem is not political.

The answer to this question is not kindness, philanthropy, hugging each other more, or patience.  The answer is not social because the problem is not social.

This is a problem that the Bible addresses repeatedly.  We have a sin problem.  We are, at our essence, an unholy, stained people.  We fail.  We do not meet the standard that God has set for us.  The answer to the question "What is wrong with us?" is obvious to those who are willing to see - The answer is that we sin.  Our world is devastated by its failure to meet the mark.

Our world stinks.  It is full of jackasses and stupid sheep and other dumb animals who do nothing more than act on base instinct.  It is full of dung and smells like it.  It is every bit a stable.

The answer to this problem is found in one place.  And that one place is a manger in Bethlehem.

Jesus was not born because God was lonely or because the angels needed a chance to air that new chorus they had been rehearsing.  Jesus was born for one reason - to die.  Jesus came, as the Bible repeatedly makes clear, to save us from ourselves. 

How can those in Connecticut have Christmas?  They have no choice.  They must have Christmas.  They must find room for the Son of God to enter the stench of our world and do what only the Son of God can do.

Chris Rice has written: "Tears are falling, hearts are breaking; how we need to hear from God.  You've been promised, we've been waiting.  Welcome, holy child.  Bring Your peace into our violence, bid our hungry souls be filled.  Word now breaking heaven's silence, welcome to our world. So wrap our injured flesh around You, breathe our air and walk our sod.  Rob our sin and make us holy, perfect Son of God.  Welcome to our world."

Christmas in Connecticut will surely result in more kindness, philanthropy, hugs, and patience.  It may even resolve a political dispute or two.  If so, that will be nice.

But what a world where Adam Lanza can shoot dozens of elementary school children needs is more basic - and much more complex - than a hug and a handout. 

We have all, like sheep, gone astray.  We have turned, every one of us, to our own way. 

But behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and He shall be called "Emmanuel," which means "God with us."  And He shall save His people from their sins.  And the government shall be upon His shoulder.  And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.  And the lion and the lamb will lie down together.  And a little child shall lead them.

It is absolutely time for Christmas in Connecticut.

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