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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (December 2015 & January 2016)

posted Dec 7, 2015, 7:59 AM by Russell D. Hampton

O Come, blest Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by your advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel. 

(O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, LBW #34, v. 4)

As I sit at my desk, writing this article, I am haunted by the recent events in Paris, France and Beirut, Lebanon.  There were many lives lost and so many more lives affected by these tragedies.  But the other aspect that unsettles me is that it seems the terror and violence of this world is escalating exponentially each day.  I believe it grieves all of us and compels us to cry, “When Lord, will it end?!”

There was a story circulating on Facebook (it could have been true, it could have been an illustration, or it could have been a story taken from a Mr. Roger’s quote) following the Paris tragedy of a little boy asking his mother, “Mom, where was God when this happened?”  I believe the little boy was implying: Why didn’t God prevent this tragedy or why did God let it happen?  The mom answered back, “See all the people who ran to help.  God is there in those people.”

I can’t answer the question: Why do bad things happen to good or innocent people?  I certainly do not have THE answer to: Why did God let this tragedy or that violent act happen?  I have some explanations, but certainly not ones that will satisfy everyone or all situations.  What I do know is this: God promises to be in the midst of the people who are affected by the evil, violence, terror and death of this world. God promises to be present to help lift up those affected by tragedies.  God promises to shine divine light in the midst of darkness. 

God is present.  God is present through the first responders who risk their lives to stop the violence.  God is present in the bystanders who take heroic steps from letting violence escalates.  God is present in the community who offers support in the aftermath. God is present in the people who help, show kindness, and offer hope. 

We can trust that God is present because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The Incarnate Word entered into our world to walk beside and with humanity.  He taught us about God’s ways of love, justice, mercy, and peace for all people, including the lowliest and most despised persons of this world.  Jesus proclaimed the good news that would set people free from captivity to this world and its ways of oppression.  Then Jesus demonstrated God’s love for this world by entering into the violence and evil, sin and corruption, darkness and death; dying on the cross; and triumphing over it all through the light and life of the resurrection. 

As we enter the Advent and Christmas seasons, let us remember: Christ has died – the Incarnate Word entered into this world to conquer sin and death and to bring life and salvation to all; Christ is Risen! – the presence of Christ remains with us in Word and Sacrament and in the persons of faith who seek to bring love and peace to this world; and Christ will come again – we place our hope in a day when God in Christ will disperse all darkness and evil, bring an end to death, and fill this world with everlasting love, peace, and joy. 

As we anticipate and watch for that day, let us be the presence of Christ to others.

In Christ ~ Pastor Maureen