When death comes unexpectedly and tragically, our shaken minds can go to strange places. As I drove home from work on Friday, my heart ached and my mind went to the parents of the Connecticut victims. I found myself thinking, “They will have already bought Christmas presents. What will they do now? How can they bear to keep them? How can they bear to give them away?”
These are small questions, far down even the list of logistical problems that Death forces upon us when we are least able to deal with logistics. They’re unimportant amid all the huge, complex theological and societal questions that rise up after such useless violence. Just a feeling really. A sorrow that felt lost and wondered what to do.
I wish I had something wise to say about this ugliness that has burst into our Advent joy. I wish I did, but I don’t. It’s too close for me to trust words. All I have to share is some music that came to my wandering mind. It’s the first movement of Brahms’ German Requiem. The words are from Matthew 5:4 and Psalm 126:5-6
Selig sind, die da Leid tragen, denn sie sollen getröstet werden.
Die mit Tränen säen, werden mit Freuden ernten.
Sie gehen hin und weinen und tragen edlen Samen, und kommen mit Freuden und bringen ihre Garben.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
They that go out weeping, bearing precious seed, shall come again with rejoicing, bringing their sheaves.
In the original German:
And in translation: