Musings from Mountains and Valleys-Advent 2
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon* us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ Luke 1:76-79
The Christian nationalism and the post-modern progressive movements share a pagan confidence in an absolute belief in the emotive relativism “of living my truth.” Whether I am listening to the thinly veiled antisemitic equivocations of the presidents of Harvard and Penn or that anti-immigrant ravings of the governors of several southern states, we are witnessing both the fruits of a godless morality and the abandonment of the belief in shared enlightenment values. The latest versions of identity politics tap into the original sin of collective blame of “the other.” As Rene Girard observed If you scapegoat someone, it's a third party that will be aware of it. It won't be you. Because you will believe you are doing the right thing…. More than ever, I am convinced that history has meaning - and that its meaning is terrifying."
But we also believe in the redemptive trajectory of “holy history.” As Christians, we need to be able to hold to multiple narratives and realties and the same time. I am able to be mortified at the atrocities committed by Hamas and grieve the deaths of Palestinian children; I am able to want justice and peace, without embracing in ahistorical prejudicial rhetoric or racist gerrymandering; I am able to support individual rights without sacrificing our children to the modern Moloch of gun violence; I am able to believe in and practice the peace of Christ in a world that finds new ways to kill Jesus every day.
A lot of the world and a significant portion of this country “sits in darkness and under the shadow of death” this Advent, and many of those in power do this by conscious choice. But we are Advent people who believe in the dawn of God’s coming kingdom. Because we live in the light of God’s revelation in Jesus, we can navigate the grey of human affairs. Through the “tender mercies” of God, we love all of God’s children, we mourn for all who die, we care for all who suffer, and we serve this world in the hope and the peace of Christ.