Darkness, Advent, and Sandy Hook (Newtown)

There are no words when beautiful little children are mercilessly slaughtered. Darkness like this is not only unthinkable, it’s paralyzing. Evil has slapped us in the face and we feel as if we can do nothing to defend ourselves. Only words like “demonic” begin to describe it.

Understandably, people want answers. “Why did this happen?!” But the materialism that dominates the Western mind, refusing to acknowledge unseen spiritual realities, will not let in explanations that shed light on this darkness. So the media will go on and on about how this can be explained by a lack of mental health care, parental failure, failure to see the ‘warning signs.’ These answers are inadequate because they are incomplete.

Advent coincides with the shortest days of the year. Literal darkness is at its seasonal peak. But Advent celebrates the turning of the tide. At the winter solstice, light begins to push back the darkness. Days get longer. This is what Incarnation is all about.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1.1-3

Christians throughout the centuries and around the globe have participated in Advent because of their profound awareness of the darkness of which we Westerners only see momentary glimpses in tragedies like the Newtown massacre. Ancient peoples were not paralyzed by Materialism. Even without advanced vocabulary or systematic categories, they understood that a spiritual darkness reigns in this world. Yet, they also understood that a great Light has come into the world, and has begun to vanquish the darkness.

Advent isn’t a pill we take to quickly forget the darkness, or ignore the darkness. No, Advent grants us the space to dwell in-between tragedy and deliverance. It gives us time to reflect, feel the weight of the pervasive darkness in this world, and hope for a Savior to come into the world and rescue us. It is a reminder that though the Savior has come, and Jesus is that Savior, we still live in-between his Advent into the world and his Return to shine his light on darkness—destroying it forever.

Until then, we pray, we grieve, we remember, and we hope.

Come Lord Jesus, Shine Your Light, Destroy the Darkness!