Be the Light!

Ahhh is it any surprise I turn to writing on a day like today? I have been to the news and facebook,and the phone and my kids beds while they are sleeping and even church this morning to hear what could possibly be said about Friday in Connecticut.  I have found a bit of comfort in all those places and tons of grief and pain an anger. It is a senseless act of violence with such enormity of pain and waste of human life and potential it seems silly and belittling to the lives lost to talk about anything other than their sweet little faces and their favorite colors and what was on their Christmas list. It seems callous to focus on anything other than the heroics of the teachers -people we pay $41.38 and hour if we assume they don’t do any work outside of the actual school day- who lied to the shooter while hiding the children in a closet. To focus on those lives is to focus on the light and the good. It is to remain hopeful. And that glimmer of light is exactly what the victims families need. Because right now it seems too hard to even breath.

Do you remember the show Hill Street Blues? I was on the edge of the appropriate age to watch an evening police drama but with an older brother, who was sometimes my babysitter, I managed to see more than my fair share of this great show. The theme song itself  starts with a slow simple piano, making way for a  70s Gerry Rafferty sort of jingly synthesizer, the 80s instrument which was everywhere from Cats to Hooked on Classics volumes 1-19. The hook before the theme was always in the briefing room, officers filing in for a day of work with talk about the day’s cases. In the first 5 years of the show, Sergeant Esterhaus would dismiss his cops and then grab their attention again with: “Hey, let’s be careful out there.” In 1984 a new sergeant put his own mark on the squad. After 4 years of Reaganomics, the opening quote for Sergeant Stan Jablonski became: “Let’s do it to them before they do it to us.” Not a surprising shift for the most “me” focused decade in our country’s history.

Today, we seem to be living more of the Jablonski’s way of life. Thoughts like: the world has become so crazy we better stock up and protect ourselves. Adam Lanza’s mother was supposedly a “preparer,” living with three weapons because she was a single woman who needed to be prepared to protect herself and for the end of the world. Ironically, her son used those exact “preparations” to kill her and many others. If we aren’t practicing two wrongs make a right, we have digressed back to an eye for an eye. It will never work, just ask the Romans. We need to take a stance, to demand reform. We need words on paper that change into laws. Stop with the semi-automatics weapons and the concealed weapons or the denial that mental health is a very real and very powerful problem in our country with hidden symptoms and an even more elusive path for getting help. Will this stop tragedy? Nope but if it saves the life of just one 6 year old it is worth it. Just like changing drunk driving laws has cut down vehicular deaths. As my brother  wrote last  Friday “Remember, now is not the time to talk about gun violence. Later is too soon too. After that is too late. Then it’s too soon again.”

What are we waiting for?   For enough time to work for social justice or gun reform or mental health coverage?  For someone else to say sorry first? To admit I have a problem and I need help? To touch your child again.. or not? Advent is the season of waiting. As Christians we wait with bated breath for a tiny baby born in a manger. But the good news is already here so why aren’t we spreading it more readily? We are the difference in this world. We are the light. We are  the shepherds and the wise men and the inn keeper. We are the ones who come as we are, tired and stinky and quirky, traveling great ways on a hunch that one day if we huddle together in a small space, bringing what little we have to offer, that will be enough to change the world. We have to be because we know the whole story from beginning to end. And we know that without it, darkness and sadness win.

If you aren’t Episcopalian, you might not know we have the best church music of any denomination. This is a fact. The word of God is spoken in the lyrics and the tunes created by those such as Handel and Bach are evidence of the genius in God’s creation. Today we sang one of my favorite hymns, #67, Comfort, Ye My People. It is sung in staccato which makes it some what challenging if you aren’t familiar with the tune because you have to arrive on top of each note, bouncing on it like a trampoline rather than sliding thru it. This device makes the music joyous, moving it forward with energy. How fitting for Advent. It seemed a bit happy for today but when I read the words, there could be no more fitting message. I have translated it below but included the real words after.

GOD SAYS: Comfort my people. Comfort those who sit in mourning beneath their sorrow’s load. Speak to them about Jerusalem and peace that is waiting for them. Tell them God covers their sins and warfare is over. Hear the voice of those crying in the desert, calling to us about repenting since the kingdom of God is now here. Obey the warning and do whatever you can to get there. Shape Up! Make straight what was crooked, make the rough places soft. Be true and humble as if you were living with a king (or celebrity idol). Because the Glory of the Lord is everywhere and all of us can see: nothing will break the power of God.

*Comfort, comfort ye my people,
speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load;
speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.

For the herald’s voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
bidding all men to repentance,
since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet him,
and the hills bow down to greet him.

Make ye straight what long was crooked,
make the rougher places plain:
let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits his holy reign,
For the glory of the Lord
now o’er the earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that his word is never broken.

 

 

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Allison A. on December 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Amen.Amen.

    Reply

  2. Posted by elizabeth on December 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    so well said. and thank you.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Mary Kay on December 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks, MAB. It’s a gift to stay in touch. Love you lots and lots..
    Aunt Mary Kay

    Reply

  4. Posted by maryholly on December 17, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Good job Melanie. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Mary Holly

    Sent from my Veriz

    Reply

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