When I was in Mexico a couple of years ago, I took a bus tour to these Mayan Ruins. Our guide was smart, funny, insightful, and made the journey more than I expected. Others of our group didn't go by bus they hired a car and went to the ruins. I'm glad I did the tour for he changed the way I saw the countryside we drove through, the culture he came from, and the history of these ruins.
One of the ways he guided us was to take a look at the ways the Spanish had come through and taken this religious and cultural site and built a church on this spot. The Spanish colonizers came into totally change the culture. But what our guide shared with us is that even this church is now a ruins. And the practice of his people has become a mix of the Mayan culture and Catholicism. But what I was struck by was that both of these were now crumbling and something new was being born elsewhere.
As I am watching the breaking news on TV about another mass shooting in San Bernadino, CA, I want a guide. I want someone to tell me about the local culture, the history, the loss. I want a guide to lead me to struggle with and change this violence. We don't know why. We don't know who. We just know that this is the second mass shooting today. We want someone to guide us through this senseless violence that has led to a mass shooting a day this year. We want someone to change this. We want a guide who can bring us together so that we don't sit in our camps where we can do nothing. We want a guide who says enough easy accessible guns. Prayers are not enough. We need to act. We need to change. And we also need to pray, for the victims, for the fearful, for those who ran into danger to protect us.
This advent we remember that after the birth of Jesus, there was an order sent out to kill all the little boys. Innocent life was slaughtered in the hopes of getting one life, Jesus. All those little ones died. Jesus escaped this death sentence for Joseph was told in a dream to take Mary and the baby and flee. Jesus' family became refugees from serious violence. The Christmas story which we like to think of sweetly shows a world where there is danger and trouble. In the midst of this, we have songs. The song that speaks to me in this unfolding tragedy is Zechariah's song.
Zechariah sings, prays -
68 ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,So God this night, guide us as we pray " By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a mighty saviour for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us 74that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, 75in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
Guide our feet into the way of peace.
"Ego Sum Resurrectio Et Vita & Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel" by Capilla Peñaflorida
Guide our Feet in the way of peace.