Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Caught in a moment (Advent reflections); Part 3: Where is God in the midst of the terror (9/11)

Its almost a decade on from the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. An incident that changed the world. I still vividly remember what I was doing when I heard about this horrific event. Lying in bed in Dunedin when my radio alarm clock, tuned to the 'sport talk' station when Martin Devlin the Sports Breakfast host said, "It's hard to talk about sports when someone has just crashed a airplane into the World Trade Center". I thought this can't be true and we turned on the TV just in time to see a second plane crash into the towers.

The picture of terrorists crashing a plane into the twin towers is still a hard image to look at. It left a gaping wound in my soul. I found myself asking the question where is God in the midst of the terror? Let’s face it weren’t the people on the planes doing this in the name of Allah; in the name of God?

For me Christmas goes a long way to answer that question. In Jesus, Christians believe God became one of us. It was not to luxury, riches, safety and security that this Christ child came it was into an occupied country where freedom was brutally oppressed. St Matthew’s account of the Christmas narrative tells of a wholesale massacre sparked by Jesus’ coming. When King Herod, whom folk singer Bruce Cockburn calls ‘a paranoid dictator’, is told there is ‘one born king of the Jews’ he sends death squads to kill all male babies under two. Jesus early childhood resounds to the wail of many mothers grieving for their murdered children and he spends his childhood as a refugee in a foreign land.

Where is God in the midst of terror? He came and dwelt in its midst. We see that in Jesus God identifies with the lowly, the poor and those who suffer. Jesus suffers and is killed by the worst of human violence. Yet in return we do not find heavenly armies invading with overwhelming force rather his words on the cross are “Father forgive them they know not what they do’. His response is an offer for all to come to him to receive forgiveness, then sends them out again “Not to repay evil with evil,” but as St Paul said to the Romans, “ to overcome evil with good”.

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