I am not weighing in on the gun debate. No matter which side of the debate you agree with, I do not personally know ANYONE that resonates with and in anyway condones what took place in New York and Connecticut. I can’t begin to do as well as others in expressing the horror, disbelief, and grief. While I have enjoyed a relaxing fun meaningful holiday, too many have not…too many in Connecticut, too many in New York, too many in Syria, too many in Afghanistan, too many in Iran, too many in Mexico, too many in Burkina Faso…well, too many.
I usually have a theme that resonates throughout a Christmas season. Something quickens in my being and I see a particular significance that makes the season meaningful for me. How it saddens me to say this, but violence has been this year’s theme. With each violent act recounted locally, nationally, and abroad, I have looked to the heavens and asked, “God, where are you?” I am reminded that in the birth narrative of our Savior, violence was present. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph fled to Egypt. Not long afterwards, babies died, mothers screamed, and fathers wept. We like to think that this kind of horror was then, not now. We like to think that it was them, not us. Wretchedly, it is now and it is us.
Many years ago while studying in France a friend from Kuwait said to us that he would never be able to go to the United States to visit because he was fearful of the violence he read about. Frequently, we have people express their fears to us of violence and terrorism that occurs in countries that are predominately Islamic. I never asked then, but would like to ask my friend now, “What do you understand about Christianity in light of the stories of violence you have heard?” I ask the readers of this blog, “What do you understand about Islam in light of the stories of violence you have heard?” I would like to ask the world, “What do think about us as a country in light of this horrific shocking violence and what do you think of our political system in light of what has transpired recently in our history?” Moreover I would like to ask, “What do you think of us as Christians now that this has happened in a country predominately Christian?”
As much as I hate the lesson I have learned, nevertheless, it has occurred to me this year that violence is not restricted to political systems, to religious faiths, to cultural affinities, to generational identities, to historical periods, etc. Violence is. Violence from Cain and Abel always has been. If we want “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14) then we must seek greater understanding, deeper love, more grace, better dialogue. You have an opportunity for that. On January 16th we are offering an opportunity to hear from three Muslim leaders in the Houston area. They will express their thoughts and opinions on the Syrian crisis, on the Egyptian political situation, and on what it means to be Muslim in America. Join us for our webinar. Let’s do what we can to increase understanding and decrease fear and violence.
Where is God in all of this? Urging each of us to understand that God is not the author of horror, but of grace.