The Slaughter of the Innocents – Advent Reflections on the Massacre in CT

Like all of us I continue to struggle with the horrific events in Connecticut. This morning I was sent several links to posts that talk about this and articulate far better than I ever could our very limited understanding of God’s viewpoint.

First this thought provoking post from Brian Draper. It was first posted on 17 December 2012 as part of Brian Draper’s advent 20 email series

When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’
Matthew 2:16-17

Lest we forget, one episode of the Christmas story is always written out of the school plays. In fact, the good news of great joy to all people spelled near immediate disaster for parents in Bethlehem, whose little boys were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once the Magi had given Herod the slip, he tried, in evil fury, to snuff out the threat of a newborn King of the Jews. Scholars believe that in a town of around 1,000, such as Bethlehem was back then, there’d have been around 20 children killed.

20 children.

John Eldredge reminds us that humanity is a battleground. ‘I am staggered,’ he writes, ‘by the level of naivety that most people live with regarding evil. They don’t take it seriously. They don’t live as if the story has a Villain. Not the devil prancing about in red tights, carrying a pitchfork, but the incarnation of the very worst of every enemy you’ve met in every other story. Dear God – the Holocaust, child prostitution, terrorist bombings, genocidal governments. What is it going to take for us to take evil seriously?’

‘One of the things that surprised me,’ wrote C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, ‘when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe – a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death, disease, and sin… Christianity agrees… this is a universe at war.’

We are painfully, dreadfully reminded – since the events of last week in Newtown, Connecticut – that the advent of Christ is not, in fact, a kitsch nativity scene in a mall in mid-winter; nor a sentimental moment for the kids to shine, as the star, or Mary, or Joseph, in the play, lovely though that is… but a crucial moment in a battle played out both on a cosmic scale and in our own hearts. ‘The coming of Jesus was… a dangerous mission,’ says Eldredge, ‘a great invasion, a daring raid into enemy territory.’

And lest we forget, advent has nothing to do with the triumph of religion, nor the vindication of our own belief system, but the incarnation of the very best of every hero we’ve met in every other story, fighting for us. Dear God – what is it going to take for us to take this seriously?

Dear God. Dear God.

 

The following excerpts are from a post by Rachel Marie Stone. She shares a variety of other links and insights on her post Look for the Helpers and love the Children.

from Katherine Willis Pershey:

“this is how God comes to us: covered in blood and vernix, born in a barn as an impoverished peasant. And later, covered in blood and tears, killed on a cross as an ordinary criminal.

This is how God comes to save us. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t even finished; we continue to wait and ask: how long, O Lord, until you come again to judge the living and the dead? But at the heart and soul of the Christian faith is the conviction that God, in the entirely unique person of Jesus Christ, shall make all things new. Every tear shall be wiped away, every sin forgiven. Every loss restored.”

from Garry Wills in the New York Review of Books:

“The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god’s bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings. Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence.”

from Mother Jones: “A Guide to Mass Shootings in America”

and of course, from Mister Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

a clip from the viral photo/quote, copied under fair use

a clip from the viral photo/quote, copied under fair use

And last these helpful resources from Brene Brown at Ordinary Courage

Lord, help me send love and light to those in pain. Let me stay calm and openhearted while I manage my own fear and anger. Help me remember that news coverage is traumatizing for me, not healing, and that my children need safety and information, not more fear. 

Here are resources that I find helpful for talking to children about violence and death: 

An excellent Q-and-A about talking to children about the Sandy Hook shootings from The Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

The American Academy of Pediatrics on School Shootings

University of Minnesota on Talking to Kids About Violence Against Kids

National Association of School Psychologists on Talking to Children About Violence

What I consider to be one of the best articles on talking to children about death (by Hospice)

Explaining the news to our kids from Common Sense Media.

No matter how experienced the helpers, their lives will be changed today. Thank them. Pray for them.