Grace and Peace to you.
We call something like a school shooting a “senseless tragedy” and people ask “Why?” People say they’re “trying to make sense of it.” As if there ought to be some sense, ought to be a reason. As if suffering and evil are somehow subject to logic and everything has an explanation and if we just understood it then we would see that it was fitting and then we could accept it. Or that, understanding it, we could control it.
But this world is not subject to logic or reason, or our control. We are vulnerable to germs and emotions, to natural forces and unnatural acts, bad laws, cancer, mental illness, fear, poverty, violence, oppression, despair, bullets, the abuse of power, greed and a thousand other things that can ruin us. That has been the human landscape since Eden, since Cain murdered his brother Abel. None of that “makes sense.”
So into this senseless world full of suffering and evil comes a child who will love us, a child who will awaken us and bring us to our senses, if he can live through it. A child is the most vulnerable to poverty and abuse, the first to suffer from war and disease, the one who will most surely die in a school shooting. In fact this child will not live through it. A child of homeless refugees, he will survive for a while, but before long we will kill him, and we will have our reasons; it will make sense to us to execute him. But not before he loves us so deeply that we are changed, and occupies our suffering with such divine grace that it is blessed, and reveals to us God’s faithful presence, God’s mercy and justice. He will die our own worst death, and yet come again— and again, “risen with healing in his wings.” This saves our lives, but you can’t say it really “make sense.”
Christmas doesn’t “make sense.” It’s about wonder and gifts and redemption, not reasonableness. Coming among us, undeserving and unreliable as we are, coming as a vulnerable child whose only power is love is an act of unreasonable grace. Coming to a poor, unmarried peasant girl, having angels announce his arrival not to the people in power but to irrelevant shepherds, singing of glory amidst animal poop and the threat of soldiers— this is not sensible. It is not logical for God to forgive us without any reason other than loving us. It doesn’t make sense for God to come with gentleness that we will meet with violence and love that we will reject, promising resurrection when it’s clearly impossible. All this grace and glory and beauty and tender love for such troubled people just doesn’t make sense.
But the child comes. And in this child we will see God’s Word of love made flesh. For in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. “The Word,” in Greek, logos, is the “logic,” the meaning, the sense of things. And the logos is love. It turns out the world doesn’t make sense, not at all. It makes love. In the beginning there is love, and all things are made through love. Even in the darkness, even in the suffering and evil, beneath and within it all there is love. We will senselessly twist the gift of life, but love will prevail. Evil will be forgiven, all life will be healed, and the dead will be raised. God is with us in love. What blessing, to receive a gift so far greater than anything merely sensible.
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