Friday, December 14, 2012

Slaughter of the Innocents

For advent, my housemates and I are fasting electric lights, and are just using candles and now, string lights from our tree. It has been inconvenient and troublesome, exhausting to prepare our lunches by candlelight in the early morning, but fasting doesn't seem worth it if it isn't hard, so I am glad we're sticking with it. While I should probably talk some more about candles and all they can mean again another time, today I found out of the tragedies in Connecticut, and I realized how little I was considering the darkness of this world, and our need for Christ and his light. 

If you haven't heard this news, go read it or look at this incredibly powerful collection of images from the NYTimes. I like to think we can shelter children from some of the horrors of this world. The other day in the kids section at work, a little girl picked up a copy of the book, The Man Who walked between the Towers and took it to her mom, who read it to her. At the end of the story, the book mentions that even though the twin towers aren't there anymore, the story of the man who tightroped between them makes the memory of them live bright. And the little girl asked, "why did they move them?" Her mom just told her they didn't move them, and that they weren't there any more, and that they could talk about it more when she was older. I forget that children have been born and lived their whole lives since that tragedy, born to lives with their own tragedies to meet, and griefs to deal with. It breaks my heart to think of kids this girl's age seeing their friends die, and siblings and parents and families all ripped apart with death. 

Death so close to Christmas too, when we think of people as being more than ever our brothers and sisters, and sing of peace on earth, and goodwill to men. I forget how much death is a part of Christmas. We celebrate the birth of the Son of God, who's mission on this earth was to die for our sins. "Nails, spear, shall pierce him through, the cross be borne for me, for you" we sing in church, and T. S. Eliot, in his poem about the Magi writes about the similarities between birth and death. The narrator of the poem says after the journey,
"All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death."
And in the Bible itself, the birth of Jesus paired with the slaughter of the innocents, as Herod killed any child that might rival his station as king of the Jews. So even as our tracks of Handel sing out, "Comfort ye, Comfort ye my people" we can read of the mothers whose childen were murdered, and the sounds of "weeping and lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." I don't know what to say to this. So I sit. In the darkness of my living room. Praying for everyone effected. Waiting for the light.

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