I know that I keep coming back to the events in Newtown on December 14th. It's been really prominent in my thoughts. Certainly, when we started Advent, none of us anticipated something so awful happening. None of us expected to arrive at Christmas in the shadow of not just that event, but another mass shooting which occurred yesterday. Another! All of us have struggled to cling to our joy.
I've been trying to find some kind of perspective to help me around it, but there just is no perspective where things like this make sense. Instead, I've had to turn my focus within. Let me share one of my very favorite passages of scripture with you. It's from the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.It is a sad truth that the smallest and most helpless members of our society are the ones who bear a disproportionate share of the brunt of society's worst tendencies. But that doesn't mean you and I can't try to help. We can work together (and it doesn't even have to be that much work!) and do whatever we can for the least of these brothers and sisters.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
And when we do...
When we do, it's just like we're doing it for Him. There's your joy. As good as the anticipation and expectation of Advent are, they're still looking towards a defined end. Anticipate bigger. Expect eternity. Love each other.