Dead bodies–little bodies–sprawled on the floor. Bloody children. Wailing parents. It was hard to get back into the Christmas spirit after hearing that news. Hard to write about the coming of Emmanuel –God with us–while inside I’m screaming, “Where the hell were you, God?”.
But that question is really at the heart of Christmas–always, every year: Where are you, God?
And the answer, or part of the answer, is that God is not where we expect to find the Divine. God is not in the palace, where the magi sensibly begin their search. God is not floating in the sky, singing bass with the angel chorus. God is in that smelly stable; in that swaddled baby.
And it sucks sometimes because while God is restrained by swaddling clothes, the Roman government keeps oppressing people. And Herod orders the slaughter of the innocents. And a fat lot of good tiny baby Jesus does everyone crying and nursing and pooping his way across the desert.
Walter Brueggemann wrote a prayer titled, “The God we would rather have.” And it’s true. At least for me. There are times I would rather have a God that just fixes things–now.
I don’t know why so many people today are rocking in shock at the loss of someone they love. I don’t know why a young man would take guns into a school in the first place. I have some ideas about quality mental health care, parental support, and gun control–but I really don’t know how to prevent this from happening again.
Ultimately, I don’t know how to keep my own children safe–or yours. I don’t know how to protect their bodies or their spirits–or mine.
In these days of Advent and Christmas, as we sing Emmanuel, I will try to believe it even though I don’t understand it. I will try to believe in the presence of God with us through the Christ child–not in the dogmatic “believe this or go to hell” sense, but in the original sense of the word believe: to give one’s heart to.
However many pieces of my heart there might be to give.