Dreaming of a Sense-full Christmas
By Tom Wachunas
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” -Genesis 4:9 –
Until at least after Christmas Day I will be fasting. Fasting from writing about new local art doings; from mining the meaning or impact of this or that exhibit; from my often too-obsessive pursuit of the role of art critic. Such use of my time just now, in light of the recent mind-numbing horror that unfolded in Connecticut, feels simply too unimportant and selfish. Instead I have been praying.
I suppose it’s somewhat ironic that I feel prompted to share with you what you’re about to read, coming as it does on the heels of my preceding post. But it’s an irony hopefully more timely, nourishing, and palatable than it is bitter.
Speaking of irony, I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve heard the word ‘senseless’ paired with the killings that transpired on December 14. I do understand how an act of this awful magnitude – criminal, insane, or both - can confound our ability to effectively translate our hurt, grief and anger into “mere words.”
But here’s where I think the terrible irony of our descriptive vocabulary comes into play. To the extent that this fallen world chooses to continually remain outside God’s plan to gather it eternally to Himself through the Lordship of Jesus Christ, to that extent such acts as the one that took place in Connecticut aren’t really ‘senseless’ at all. For as simplistic if not cold as this may sound to some of you, I think such events are the understandable and yes, tragically sensible, cumulative outcomes (or perhaps monstrous ripple effects, if you will, like a tsunami after an earthquake) of separation from Christ.
I am certainly NOT saying that the victims of this or any other human atrocity are being necessarily judged as ungodly and forever damned, or that they are merely the hapless recipients of sufferings arbitrarily inflicted by a cruel and menacing God. In his letter to the Romans (Romans 8:19-22), Paul perceived all of creation to be in a state of urgent expectation “for the sons of God to be revealed.” He went on to describe the created universe “groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” I believe that Paul’s “present time” was a foreshadowing of our present time as well.
It is indeed a time of desperate seeking to understand the why of human cruelty and suffering, the why of unleashed moral depravity and sheer evil. It is a time when our best thinking, in and of itself and unaided by God, can produce no true hope. It is a time when I, along with many others, pray constantly for our world to be born anew, with and into Christ. It is a time to stop shaking clenched fists at a God mistakenly perceived to be absent from us.
May we all then, in the name of Jesus, with open hands and hearts, humbly receive His love and peace that surpasses our knowledge and understanding.
Photo: This year’s edition of my Christmas card.