“Hands up, don’t shoot!”
“I can’t breathe!”
“Black lives matter!”
In what should be a season of joy and carols and lights, these are the chants echoing in Ferguson, in New York City, across the social media landscape, and in cities and homes around the country. As I’ve poured mugs of hot chocolate and passed out candy canes to my giddy kids, I’ve been struck by the irony: the festive joy of the holiday season set, in sharp relief, against the backdrop of a nation in turmoil.
And yet, as we’ve lit candles as a family to mark Advent, I’m also moved by how deeply this season resonates with this painful and difficult cultural conversation. How long, O Lord? Christians have asked for centuries during Advent. In this season Christians around the globe align our hearts with the scriptural, messianic longing for the and focus our hope on the coming of his just, eternal kingdom. I’ve been praying this traditional Advent prayer, which seems especially fitting: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” For amid all the lights, the shopping, and the merriment are questions of death, calls for justice, and a sense that we’re indeed dwelling in a dark time.1