Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, December 20

By Pat Freeland, Chair of Church Council

The Loss of Innocents

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Christmas is supposed to be happy. Most of us carry a picture of how life should go. The assumptions about life held by children and parents of Nashville’s Covenant School were shattered last March. After terror hit that Nashville school, I was reminded of a column Ross Douthat published in the New York Times after the 2012 massacre of 20 children in Sandy Hook elementary school. The slaughter of children may make Ivan Karamazovs out of even the most devout, Douthat writes in an article called “The Loss of the Innocents.” In Dostoyevsky’s novel, Ivan is the Karamazov brother who raged about the terrible things people do to children – the innocents. Ivan questions why a loving God would allow such horrors.

Dostoyevsky didn’t try to answer the question of why God allows such terrible cruelty. Instead, he created characters in the Brothers Karamazov who demonstrated how actions of Christian love transcend suffering. The novelist, Douthat writes, was providing a true reflection of the New Testament, which portrays God’s goodness through a narrative rather than an argument. Jesus reveals to us his solidarity with us rather than a philosophical explanation of his care.

We want the sweet baby Jesus, stars, and angels. But the Bible tells us that suffering was present back then also. King Herod had innocent babies in Bethlehem slaughtered; an adult Jesus will face the cross. What can we offer those who are not experiencing the sentimental Hallmark version of Christmas? The hope that comes from Christ. 


We pray to create the Christian community that will bring compassion to those who suffer and wisdom and resolve to prevent the needless loss of precious life. Amen

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