On the heels of Jesus’ birth story comes a story of violence and death. The narrative moves, quickly, away from glorious rejoicing to the slaughter of the innocents, in which every baby boy near Jesus’ birthplace was murdered.
Another slaughter of innocents happened this morning. It happened down the road from us, twenty miles away. My daughter’s school is in lockdown because a young man decided to murder as many children as he could on this chilly day with a bright blue sky. We are supposed to light the town Christmas tree tonight. We are supposed to be a community of good cheer and good will and instead we brush up against evil and fear and darkness.
I have been singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel” to William every night before bed these past few weeks. He requests “Christmas church songs” all year round, but I only recently offered him this Advent hymn. The tune is beautiful, but haunting, sung in a minor key. It is as if the melody itself carves out a hollow space, the space that Jesus is meant to fill. The space that my theology tells me Jesus has filled, does fill, will fill. The space that remains empty for many parents today, the space that will be filled only with tears and heartache and horror.
Advent is a time of longing, of crying out for God to continue to break into this broken world and make it right. And so, with anger and fear and sorrow and the thinnest wisp of hope, we cry out. Come, Lord Jesus. Come into the horror. Make it right.