When I think of “Glory” and Advent and Christmas, I usually think of the angels and their witness, such as the refrain “Gloria inexcelsis deo.” However, that’s not what I have on my mind today.
Instead, I am confronted again by the senselessness of gun violence, innocent victims, terrorism, and evil. I grieve and mourn the innocent whose lives ended today. I hold their families and loved ones in prayer. And I pray for us that our warring madness might cease. I am tired of asking the same question of when will it be enough?
I pray, and we pray. But I am not going to say that all we can do is pray, because I don’t believe that’s true. Our prayer acknowledges that we believe God is active. Our prayer also leads us to act. I believe it’s time to stand up and participate in the work of God to turn our weapons into tools of building up the kingdom rather than tools of destruction and responses to fear.
I am reminded of one of my favorite Advent passages from Isaiah 2:
“He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” – Isaiah 2:4, NRSV.
What does glory mean?
By the definition it could mean “high renown or honor won by notable achievements” or “magnificence, great beauty,” if being used as a noun. It can also mean to “take great pride or pleasure in” when used as a verb.
I don’t care what popular culture might hold in glory today, but for me, glory looks like the people on the ground in communities trying to bring hope and light. It looks like people living out their faith through sharing blankets with the homeless. I see glory when people raise their voices for equality and speak out against injustice. I see glory when people work to end violence and the prevalence of weapons. Certainly I see glory in those brave first responders who are on the scene of the most heinous of scenes such as today tyring to help and save lives. That’s glory.
I see glory in people who refuse to live in fear, but rather choose to live in light and love. I see glory when someone gets down on their knee and helps someone up. That’s glory. That’s the kind of glory we see and testify to in our Savior and Messiah.
What does glory look like to you?
For all those affected and grieving this evening, I join in the prayer:
Out of the darkness we cry to you, O God. Enable us to find in Christ the faith to trust your care even in the midst of pain. Surround the community in San Bernardino, Calif. with your steadfast love. Assure us that we do not walk alone through the valley of the shadow, but that your light is leading us into life. In your name we pray, Amen.
Image Credit: “2:2-4 swords into plowshares,” in Isaiah 2, found in Lutheran Study Bible, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2009), 1096.