Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shut up and sit shiva

Today is a busy day, so this will not begin to contain all I wish to say.  But if I say nothing at all, I think I will burst.  I do not know which I am more ashamed to be associated with today:  Christians who are assuming a conection between Sandy Hook and the removal of prayer from school ( or even further seeing this as a consequence or punishment for a nation adrift spiritually) or Liberals who are shouting for gun control reform (do you really think we could come up with a law that would have prevented Adam from doing what he did?  Really?)

Now is the time to sit a nation.  I am not jewish and my knowledge of shiva is extremely limited, so if I misspeak please forgive me and look beyond to the intent.  Shiva is a jewish custom of  mourning the death of a loved one by coming to the house of the deceased and simply, quietly sitting with the family and mourning with them.  When Jesus arrived at Bethany after the death of Lazarus the friends and family of Mary and Martha were sitting shiva with them. 

Do you see the picture?  This is a time to mourn in a profound way.  To weep with those who are broken-hearted and deeply in pain.  What can you and I do to enter their pain?  We can pray and mourn with them, even if we are no where near Connecticut.  We can remember them all daily and the very hard road that lays before the whole community.  We can be silent and enter their pain..much like Jesus did in entering our world all those years ago.  We can be still and quiet on their behalf.

We can shut up.  Now is not the time to talk about gun control.  Now is not the time to talk about mental healthcare.  And it's not time to bemoan how far our society has drifted from its once-held judeo-christian beliefs.  Moving to these, in less than a week, is a dishonor to those who died and a disservice to those who remain.  Shame on us.  Shame on us as a nation.

What happened at Sandy Hook strikes fear and anger in all of us.  We desperately want to jump to action to prevent it from ever happening again.  But we will never be able to eradicate evil from our society, not completely.  And that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.  But not this week, not the rest of this month.  There will be a time to honor those from Sandy Hook by changing our nation for the better, but this is not it.

But now is a time to shut up.  Be still.  Mourn.  Pray for those who are decimated by this tragedy.  It is a time to sit a nation.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bittersweets from Friday

It was an early morning for me.  I was driving my daughter Ruth to Chic-fila (a family staple) to meet her sister Anna before school.  It was dark, but warm and damp outside as we met by Anna's car.  She gave me a hug, kissed her sister on the cheek and then they got in the car and drove off.  I felt like I was watching  the years drive by as they left.  How did they manage to get out of car seats?   Wasn't it time to get into the carpool line at Cornelius Elementary?  It made me sad in a way that I usually don't experience.  I have always loved the age my kids were, with all its unique ups and downs.  But watching them drive off together made me realize that in a little while they won't live in my home and while I will daily talk to God about them, I may not daily talk to them.  I didn't want to let them go.  I spent the rest of the day as I ran errands in Lake Norman watching moms with little kids and kinda wishing for a chance to go back and do it all again with them.  Bittersweet.

As I drove around town I was blasting Kyle Dillard et al.'s Christmas CD (yes, I still play cds).  I love Christmas.  It's my favorite holiday.  This year has been particularly fun.  Anyway, I was thinking about how exciting the birth of Jesus is for me.  It is the moment in time and space when he entered our realm.  He became "Emmanuel", which means "God with us".  Sometimes God's presence with me is the most comforting thing about walking through life with him,  My situation may be painful or difficult with no easy solutions in sight, but I can find hope in knowing I'm not in this mess alone.  He is with me and understands my heart.

But as I thought about it, it struck me.  I wonder about this event we celebrate, this birth that gives me such joy, hope and comfort.  What did God himself feel?  It seems to me that even though this was an apex in his plan to redeem his beloved, it had to feel bittersweet to let Jesus go.  Jesus coming to our realm meant leaving his home.  My minded flashed back to those beautiful girls driving away from Chic-fila.  And the moment Jesus was born he was on a path to death, to being betrayed and totally separated from God.  Like a countdown beginning, that prior to his birth was forever on the horizon.

So this season as I drive around singing my favorite holiday songs, as I decorate my tree, visit with friends and family, and bake cookies, I'm a little more thankful to God.  I'm aware in a new way that what brings me joy brought him both joy and pain. It makes me all the more grateful to him for allowing him to come at all. It is bittersweet.