Monday, December 17, 2012
Sometimes it is necessary to lay aside carefully made preaching plans and respond to what is impacting the hearts of so many. The shooting death of those 20 children and 6 teachers in Newtown made yesterday such a day. Like many others preachers who dared to preach yesterday, I breathed many prayers as I sought to offer some Word from God. I started with a text from Galatians which declares, "...when the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman..." (4:4). It was a time filled with great poverty. Mary and Joseph belonged to that community of the poor. It was a time when the biggest sword ruled the world. It was a time of refugees and after the birth of Jesus the Holy Family became a refugee family in Egypt. It was time when children were massacred by a political ruler who felt his power threatened. Midst the joy of Bethlehem was the wailing grief of Mothers whose innocent children were killed.
The world seems to have changed so little. When Jesus came into the world as a baby, it was a world filled with the darkness of evil. His coming and living and dying did not take away the evil. He did not change the world. What He did change was the hearts of people like each of us. We live in an evil world, but as those changed by Jesus, we go out bringing change to the pieces of the world in which He has put us. It truly is an Advent thing. Something like the tragedy experienced in recent days causes us to pray that Jesus would come quickly to bring an end to the evil which would rob children of their future and at the same time it causes us to live in the present moment in such a way as to bring the influence of His kingdom into our world as we encounter it.
Preaching on such days is a frightening moment for any preacher. There is such emotion present in the hearts of so many people. So many are looking toward the pulpit for a Word of hope, a Word that somehow will help in the process of making sense of something that makes no sense at all. No one in his or her right mind would choose to even try; yet, it is that call heard a long time ago which makes this preacher preach in such a moment, nonetheless.