Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

Think on th' eternal home,
The Saviour left for you;
Think on the Lord most holy, come
To dwell with hearts untrue:
So shall ye tread untired His pastoral ways,
And in the darkness sing your carol of high praise.

--from Keble's The Christian Year, Thoughts in Verse



Saturday, December 15, 2012

My husband and I have just returned from a lovely visit to his sister's house. We had such a pleasant time! It was snowing lightly when we set out yesterday morning, though it melted quickly, and this evening snow was again beginning to fall as we drove home. It wasn't yet sticking on the road, but the tree branches were dusted with white and the grass along the roadside was furred with a lacing of snow. We were thankful to make it safely home before driving conditions became difficult.

Of course, the news has not been good. There is so much ugliness in the world, of which we have been so brutally reminded in the past two days. The death of a child is always painful and confusing to comprehend, particularly when it is senseless and needless. To have a tragedy the proportions of what happened in Connecticut on Friday is beyond our grasp. 

That afternoon Claudia and I were shopping when we overheard a woman decrying the tragedy and declaring it to be the fault of a government that has "failed to provide adequate mental health care" for the populace. She was most vehement in her assertions. 

When she began addressing her opinion to me, I felt compelled to reply, "Actually, it's a deeper problem than a lack of mental health care. We need to ask ourselves why  there is so much mental illness. I believe it stems from the fact that we no longer have any spiritual or moral foundation in this country." 

She didn't agree, but instead added, "No, it's because people don't know how to behave in our country anymore." 

I tried again. "Yes, you're right. People don't know how to behave. But why don't they know how to behave anymore? It's because we have no spiritual foundation."

Claudia then added, "It's just what the Bible has predicted, that in the last days lawlessness will increase, people will be lovers of self and without natural affections."

"Well, I'm not a Christian, but I do believe people are basically good," the woman countered.

I chuckled and said, "Well, it's a nice thought, anyway." 

We were all polite in exchanging these views, but it was plain this woman thought our opinions antiquated and simply to be dismissed. 

Tomorrow I'd like to share an editorial I copied out and saved several years ago on this topic. But right now, I'd like to remind myself (and you!) that evil is nothing new in the world. Perhaps the horror and shock of what has happened here and now in our our age and in our own nation--a slaughter of the innocents--can bring us to a greater awareness of a former tragedy not unlike this one in Connecticut: far-away and long-ago King Herod ordered the slaughter of the little children and infants of Bethlehem as related in Matthew, chapter 2, in the New Testament portion of the Bible. It's not a fable; it actually happened. Mary, Joseph, and newborn Jesus narrowly escaped this heinous, atrocious act because Joseph was warned in a dream to take his wife and child and flee during the middle of the night.

Evil exists. Its root is an old-fashioned, much-ignored, much-mocked, much-hated term:  sin. We don't like to think about that. But obviously we should. "For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

In Christmas of 2001, the 9/11 attacks were fresh in my thoughts as I sought to find a way to wish my family and friends joy at Christmas. Eventually, I wrote the following letter, which I enclosed in all my Christmas cards that year. It seems appropriate to reprint it here in the light of this new national sorrow.

      

 

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