Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent for the Wounded, Week 2 - Who Do You Say That I Am?

Peter Paul Reubens: The Massacre of the Innocents

This week I wanted to ponder the question Jesus asked of His disciples. The tiny snippet is found in the book of Matthew, chapter 16 and verses 13 - 19. He first asked them, "Who do other people say that I am?" The answers were more along the lines of answering the question, "Who do other people say that I'm like?" John the Baptist ... Elijah ... another of the prophets ... All very vague, really. These answers could be expected from people who were reading only the headlines from the local tabloid of the day.

Then He turned the question on its head. Looking right at them He asked, "Who do you say that I am?"

My friend Mary and I went to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus's performance of Handel's Messiah last Saturday. (You can read the Calgary Herald's review here.) In the chorus "For Unto Us A Child is Born" some of who Jesus will be is sung through the words of the prophet Isaiah: Wonderful ... Counsellor ... the Mighty God ... the Everlasting Father ... the Prince of Peace.

The week has been a draining, exhausting one. It ended on a tragic note, with the news of the horrific termination of the lives of 20 tiny children and their teachers and supervisors.

In this dark season of the year, the world has become inexplicably darker with the snuffing out of the lights of these students and teachers.

On the same day, our friend Arnie buried his wife, Debbie. After a gallant fight she had succumbed to multiple myeloma, the same cancer that Mum had bravely fought. But Debbie was only 48.

"Who do you say that I am?"

"If God is real, why does he let these kinds of things happen?" was a question posed in response to the massacre.

"If God is love, why did he let children die?"

"Where was God during this?"

"Who can you trust these days?"

I think back to another massacre of children. Jesus was an infant. King Herod, in jealousy and fear, ordered the slaughter of all male children in Bethlehem aged two and under. Based on the population of Bethlehem at the time, estimates have been made that the total number of children killed would be approximately ... 20.

"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."
(Jeremiah 31:15)

The darkest kind of darkness. And it is in this time of bleak despair that the question is still asked of us, "Who do you say that I am?"

Our faith, and how we lead our lives, pivots on how we answer this question. As I was thinking about it in the context of senseless murder, in the context of cancer, in the context of war and overwhelming grief and uncertainty, one thing emerged with clarity.

Jesus is the same as He was the day before the shooting at the Connecticut elementary school. He mourns with those parents who will never again tell their little ones a bedtime story, tell them to finish their milk, tell them hurry up it's time for school. He mourns with the loved ones of the adults who were gunned down trying to protect their charges.

He suffered a horrendous death Himself so that death ultimately could be defeated. How He grieves today!

Last Sunday, the second Sunday in this year's advent, we lit the second candle, the candle of peace. At the other side of the week, we ask, where is this peace?

"You are the Christ." The Messiah. The Saviour. The only One who can bring peace and hope to the world.

Simon Peter's words ring out with clarity in an age where, like ours today, the world was infused with oppression, suffering, poverty, senseless killings.

"On this rock I will build my church." The truth that was revealed to Peter (petros) that day would be the rock (petra) upon which the church would be built, the church where Christ Himself is the cornerstone.

That early church suffered horribly, unspeakably. Like us today, they did not have all the answers to the immediate situation. Yet during their worst suffering, their moments of despair, they clung to this basic truth; we too are invited to claim and cling to it today:

"You are the Christ, the son of the living God."

In Memoriam: 

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6
Rachel Davino, 29
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27


  1. Thank you for acknowledging all the ppl who lost their lives in this week's tragedy. They should be remembered, not the terrible person who caused all this pain.

  2. Like a tapestry, you are able to weave together the stories of history with today. More beautiful is, that you have once again pointed me to The Source of our hope, light and peace. Thank you K

  3. weeping for all those 6 and 7 year olds and those adults, thinking of our 6 and 7 yr old grandkids

  4. I needed that clarity today, Karyn. Thanks for fleshing it out so it can be easily understood, at least by me. Some of those thoughts linger in my mind. I love you, m'dear.

  5. The picture locked into my gaze. Wow....
    We remembered them with candles this evening. As my family sleeps in this moment I think of those parents sitting in the dark, alone. Oh Hope and Life....


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