Violence & Peace

This Christmas looms like few others in recent times.

Some things have not changed—last-minute shopping, family travel, cards, trees, and carols. But this Advent season was punctured last Friday by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The world received the news with horror. A young man, heavily-armed, randomly killed twenty first-grade children and six adults working at the school. Senseless. Stunning. Evil.

We’ve all felt the grief; a grief accentuated by the innocence of the victims and the season of the year.

Newtown, CT

Yet, this Christmas resembles the first Christmas more than we might imagine.

Herod, the delusional and neurotic King of Judea, held court a mere six miles from Bethlehem. In a fit of rage and an effort to kill the newborn Christ, he “sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under.” (Matthew 2:16) Thus, the birth story of Christ involved its own massacre. Scholars estimate that 12-50 children perished in that violent slaughter.

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she refused to be comforted,
Because they were no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15/Matthew 2:18)

Newtown, CT will eventually (perhaps even soon) fade from the emotions and conversations of most folk. A bad day. But we’ll move on. Not so for Jesus. From His vantage point in eternity, where every event is in the constant “now” that shooting is ever before Him. And I imagine He refuses to be comforted.

The violence of the world stands in stark contrast to the way of Jesus—the Prince of Peace. When will we become the People of Peace?

The prophet Isaiah foresaw a day when “they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks…. Never again will they learn war.” (2:4) Weapons become farming implements. Violence will cease. Surely we long for such a day ourselves.

Perhaps this year Christmas challenges us to more than a fond nativity moment; cute kids in shepherd costumes. The Savior invites us to weep over violence, pray for peace, and to declare a different way to the world.

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men….” (Luke 2:14)

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8 Responses to Violence & Peace

  1. Mitzi Mihlbauer says:

    David, as always, thank you for your poignant thoughts. A special poem was just sent to me regarding the tragedy at Sandy Hook and it should be shared:

    Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38 when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate. Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air. They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there. They were filled with such joy; they didn’t know what to say. They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day. “where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse. “This is heaven” declared a small boy. “We’re spending Christmas at God’s house”. When what to their wondering eyes did appear, but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near. He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same. Then He opened His arms and He called them by name. And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring those children all flew into the arms of their King and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace, one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face. And as if He could read all the questions she had He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad. “then He looked down on earth, the world far below He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe, then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand, “Let My power and presence re-enter this land! “May this country be delivered from the hands of fools” “I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools! “Then He and the children stood up without a sound. “Come now my children let me show you around. “Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran. All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can. And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight, “in the midst of this darkness,” I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

  2. Jim and Judy Settle (parents of Cori DeWitt--Hope Int. University says:

    We SO much appreciate receiving your “Because” writings. The Lord has given you insight on
    identifying where we live and responding to it.
    May the Lord bless you and your family this Christmas season

  3. Mike Raleigh says:

    Thank you for sharing Because of Grace throughout the year. Hope this finds you and yours well up in the snowbelt of California.
    I was reading Richard Rohr’s Daily message last week. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote.
    “In more ways than one, we are waiting in darkness, Isaiah prophesied Jesus’ birth, saying, ‘the people walking in darkness have seen a great light’ (Isaiah 9:2). Yet, the darkness will never totally go away but, the Gospel offers something much more subtle and helpful: ‘the light shines on the inside of the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it’ (John 1:5). We must all hope and work to eliminate darkness especially in many of the great issues of our time. We wish world hunger could be eliminated, that the earth’s resources wouldn’t be wasted on armaments, that people would stop killing people . . .
    But at a certain point, we have to surrender the fact that the darkness is part of reality, and my logical mind does not know why. But the only real question becomes how to trust the light, receive the light and spread the light. That is not a capitulation to evil any more than the cross was a capitulation to evil. It is real transformation into the unique program of the Crucified and Risen Christ.”
    During the time we celebrate peace, love and joy, we also look to Connecticut and mourn for the loss of life . . . at the same time, we trust in the Light, receive the Light, and Spread the Light.

  4. Janet Sigsworth says:

    Thank you David for your words of truth and encouragement throughout the year. You are so right to remind us of the thousands of little lives lost each day around the world because of various tragedies – some of which we choose to accept as our ‘rights’.
    May our Lord and Savious bless you and your precious family richly this Christmas with His presence and grace.
    Looking forward to more of your thoughts in 2013,

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