Daily Devotion - Thursday, December 3, 2015
This is the first week of the season of Advent. Throughout the season of Advent we'll be focusing on what it means to be full of expectation and anticipation during this blessed time of year. We'll also be lifting up the various weekly themes of Advent, corresponding to the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath. This week our theme is "Hope."
As I watched the news yesterday, my heart sank at the news of another mass shooting. Fourteen people were shot to death in San Bernadino, CA and fourteen more were injured. A couple of hours later, the two suspects were killed in a shootout with police in the streets.
According to the FBI's definition, a "mass shooting" involves four or more victims, plus the shooter. The shooting in San Bernadino was the second mass shooting yesterday, and the 355th mass shooting in the past 336 days.
It's hard to feel hopeful in a world that is so violent. I recently read that there have been 142 school shootings since the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school when 20 students and six adults were killed by a gunman three years ago this month.
The condition of the world is troubled, to say the least. It's troubled by self-centeredness, self-absorption, and a failure to understand what kind of peace and joy is available to humankind when we are in true communion with God.
Our world is also troubled because the unbelievable message of hope that is inherent in the story of God's redemptive work through Jesus Christ is getting buried beneath the angry rhetoric, exclusive behavior and general hard-heartedness of those who claim to be Jesus' followers.
I've had more than my fair share of conversations lately with Christians who are anxious about the state of our world. More than a few of them have expressed to me their fears about their own communities becoming a target of violent, twisted and evil people. I have to admit, sometimes I feel the same way.
But as a Christian, I am called to greater faith. Following Jesus doesn't lead to easy living or easy answers to really hard questions. I don't know why these kinds of bad things happen, but I know the One who has overcome both sin and death.
I don't begin to understand how someone can become so twisted inside that their only option is destroy others in violence. But I do know the One who took on all the violence that Evil had to offer for the sake of the world.
And because of this, I can imagine a world that is free of violence, hatred and death. I can imagine a world where children are not subjected to "active shooter" training at school. I can imagine a world where "swords" are beaten into "plowshares"---where nations will spend their resources solving problems of hunger and poverty rather than making war.
I can imagine this world, because this is the vision of the world that Jesus offers--a world made new when He comes again. And so during this Advent season, I will share that vision of the world, and I will long for the arrival of the Christ-child, and I will remain steadfast in my hope that this vision will one day be a reality.