I can’t stop staring at this image.
The juxtaposition of light and dark. If glanced at it could look like Christmas lights.
It could be blurred Christmas lights with haze.
But it’s not…
It’s tear gas, and machine guns, and gas masks, and the glare of shells on Rambo style rounds of bullets.
Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday after the Darren Wilson grand jury decision and my timeline and news feed was full of comments from pastor friends and how they were addressing the decision. My sermon was written, it was finished before I left for vacation, the week before. It was on the hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel and mentioned race, but in that quick and general way. It was about the darkness of the season and how we rush to cover up the darkness with twinkling Christmas lights. And then I read this article today, which contained the photo above. The article was good, but I stared and stared at the image.
We rush to cover the darkness…
As I write this a song plays “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent/Wondrous Love” a piano solo by David Burroughs. This is one of those instances where if I didn’t find embedded music that automatically played on websites so annoying I would do it. It’s only a sample, but click here, then go back to the image. There are no words in this version, but here is the first verse of the hymn.
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded,
for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.
I want to yell and scream, and if that’s what you need to do, do it. Yell. Scream. Amen!
But as I think about the darkness, the waiting, and the season of Advent – I cannot help but see the images, the images of people standing in silence with their arms raised.
“Don’t shoot,” with fear and trembling we stand.
David Burroughs combines this hymn with “What Wondrous Love is This.” An Advent hymn, with a Lenten one. Two seasons of waiting, waiting to receive our savior – our light in the darkness – and waiting for the end of the earthly journey. A journey that ends with injustice, injustice that was part of the political system. An injustice where the laws “worked accordingly.”
How does this advent end? When does this advent end? How many more lives will be lost? How many more tears will be shed? How many more images like this will appear?
I have no answers, only more questions and to simply say this: Come Lord Jesus, Guide our Way.