Our violence cannot save us

Weeping may spend the night,
but joy comes in the morning.

While I felt secure, I said,
“I shall never be disturbed.
You, Lord, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”

Then you hid your face,
and I was filled with fear. (Psalm 30:6-7)

The world that Jesus was born into was characterized by violence.

His mother and father, poor and simple peasants, lived under the yoke of Roman imperial power. That power infected even the Jewish ruler, Herod, whose paranoia about the prophecy of another “king” caused him to have the children of Bethlehem slaughtered.

Violence infected the crowd that demanded Jesus be killed. “We can’t do it ourselves,” they said, so they handed him over to the Romans. Jesus died in agony, publicly executed as a criminal.

Two thousand years later, the infection has only spread. We no longer recognize violence, because it is so casual, so pervasive, ever-present on TV and in our “games.” We even call violence “security” and believe that being better-armed or striking first will make us safe.

Our violence cannot save us. It has never saved us. It will never save us.

Lord Jesus, quickly come! Our souls are full of heaviness and we are brought up short by our powerlessness.

Come again in your disarming vulnerability, your self-offering love, your peace that passes all understanding. Strengthen us to meet violence with love and to face the world unafraid.

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

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