Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reflections on incarnation and vulnerability

I am so grateful right now as my husband, 3 year old son, and I put up our Christmas tree. I am grateful that all three of us are here to do this, and so conscious that there are 26 families in Connecticut for whom these days are full of unremitting grief instead of joy.  And beyond those 26 families, so many more who are grieving friends, neighbors and loved ones, and a nation and world who are holding their own children and teachers a little closer this season while we participate in the rituals of public mourning.  

We are so vulnerable, we human beings.  A disturbed man with a gun brings us to our knees.  Acts of heroism by educators bring us to tears. Whether at a school, or a mall, or a temple, or on a NYC street, our daily lives open us to the fears, illness, and anger of others.  To step outside our own homes is to commit an act of trust in our neighbors and our society. There is no perfect safety, no hermetically sealed gated community where we are immune from violence and mayhem--and for too many people, even our own homes are places of violence and mayhem. 

As my family puts up this Christmas tree, and I am reminded of the birth of Jesus, I am struck by the incredible gift of Jesus the baby into this world. God gives Jesus to us, to be vulnerable with us to love, grief, suffering, and death.  And Jesus experiences all of these.  The senseless violence that we have just witnessed in Connecticut has a parallel on a cross outside Jerusalem, where a son was murdered while his mother looked on, helpless. 

Do we add to the mayhem, or do we act to mediate it? May we be people who act with wisdom and compassion, cognizant of evil but not defined by it.  On the grand scale, may we make wise laws and have policies that address the many illnesses of our societies.  In the intimacies of our own lives, may we be gentle with our neighbors, kind to strangers, and helpful to those in distress. 

And may we keep stepping outside our doors and having faith in our neighbors.  As a Christian, I would say that we should do this in the footsteps of Jesus, who commanded us to love our neighbors, even the ones who are unloveable, and even when it leaves us open to being harm.  But regardless of your religious beliefs, I am sure that it is compelling to greet our neighbors with love to interrupt--wherever possible--the violence and mayhem that exists in our world.  

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