As so many people are, I am trying to process the tragedy that happened in Newtown, CT, this morning. Somehow my horror and grief have gotten all tangled up in Advent and the waiting — the longing for a Savior to save us, to end this mess we live in. Fix it, Lord. Come back. Save us.
O come, Emmanuel!
I understand it, I feel it so sharply – the cry of ancient Israel, the longing for a Savior, a Messiah. God to step down from His heaven and dwell among us. Stop our wars. Feed our hungry. Heal our wounded.
Where are you. Where are you. When are you coming. We are hurting and being hurt. Save us. Save us. Save us from our flesh.
And He arrives: God with us at last! Almighty God! Wrapped in — wait, what? Almighty God, wrapped not in cloud and fire and majesty but in this same broken flesh. These same bones crying out.
There is senselessness in this. This same flesh we long to transcend, and instead here you are in it, skin shivering cold in the night air, rush of heartbeat in your ears.
What are you doing.
Fix it. Fix this. Fix us.
And there he stands with his flesh, his body that breathes and sweats and dies: he who could fix us with a word, could solve us, set us right. One word and we will be whole.
He does not speak that word.
I do not understand this. I do not understand how he can bear to watch us flounder, waiting while children die, while evil prospers. I do not understand why he waits.
And I do not understand why he who could speak the word that will save us chooses instead to wrap the word in flesh and give it to us.
It is senseless.
We who could be basking in wholeness, finally set right after so many generations of wrong: instead he teaches us the word, slowly, in sign language; and we follow along as best we can like clumsy mimes.
Did he choose flesh so we can echo that word? Are we somehow elevated through this, this clumsy aping of his flesh, faded as a copy of a copy of a copy? Every once in a while bending ourselves until the right word is wrung from our flesh (whoever does for the least of these) but so much more often this hurting and being hurt?
I cannot understand. How is this better?
Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us, God become senselessly like us. When will we at last be whole?