Monday, December 7, 2020

Hope in the Age of Darkness: Gifts of the Incarnation

Mark 13:1-13

I didn’t intentionally choose this passage for today, so it comes as a gift and a way to reflect on what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called “a day that will live in infamy.” America had largely stayed out of the war in Europe and was seeking to work with the Japanese Empire for peace in the pacific. Then on December 7, 1941, the Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor.

When our son-in-law was alive, he and our daughter, along with our granddaughter, lived on the Aiea ridge looking out over Pearl Harbor. We could stand on the small back deck of their home and look and see Ford Island and most of the harbor itself. As I learned more and more about the attack on Pearl Harbor (having now spent a good deal of time in that area), I realized that part of the attack came from the west, but there were some of the Japanese planes that flew low through the pass below the Aiea ridge from the north. From the vantage point of their house, one would have been looking down to see the planes flying through the ridge attacking Pearl Harbor from the north and also would have seen the planes then attacking from the west.

As I have read personal accounts of those who survived the attack, they would have understood Mark 13 in an intensely different way than we often think of it. They would have understood the falling structures and the burning ships as “not one stone being left upon another.” They would have understood where rumors of wars suddenly become violently real. They would have understood the darkness.

Throughout that war and through other wars that have followed, we have heard story after story of the abuse of people (no matter the country they serve) and the devastating tolls war takes on their lives, the lives of their families, and the world we all share together.

Wars seem to make us less human as we live with the notion that either we are the conqueror or the conquered … the victors or the victims. This darkness is perpetrated in many ways in our world. As we continue to deal with the social ills among people around the globe, we continue to dualistically divide ourselves into winners and losers, victors and victims, conquerors and conquered.

God made known in Jesus comes to break down our dualism by an act of solidarity with the losers … the people who suffered that terrible attack 79 years ago today … the innocent lives that have been lost in every war … the people who are victims of genocide, hate crimes, and domestic violence. Jesus comes to stand with us as we fall victim to inadequate healthcare policies and economic devastation. Jesus comes to stand with us as we face a deadly virus that continues to tragically affect our world.

And Jesus says that, when we are called to speak truth to power … to stand before the powers that be, we have no need to fear. God will be with us … incarnate in us … and we will be able to speak truth without perpetrating or fearing violence.

O God who stands with us in the darkness: Give us courage to face the darkness and a voice to speak the truth. Amen.

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