In this Advent season, amid the shadows, comes the light

When I heard the news bulletin about the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., my hand sprinted to the off button on my car radio. Enough already.

fc_AdventSeasonCandle_200wTurning off the radio, though, doesn’t tune out the unspeakable pain of senseless and merciless taking of human life, even when it’s a continent away from me. The horror still ripples through newspaper headlines, tweets and water cooler conversations, leaving fear and questions in its wake. What shadows in the human soul lead a couple to gun down people at a holiday party? It’s hard not to allow San Bernardino—and Paris and Charleston, S.C., and the list goes on—to threaten trust in the decency of humankind.

A friend of mine remembers Mr. Rogers when the news overwhelms her. The longtime children’s TV host said when he heard news that frightened him as a boy, his mother would tell him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Those words stuck with him throughout his lifetime: “I am always comforted,” he said, “by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”

I am working at following Mr. Rogers’ lead and reframing the news. I find comfort in looking for the helpers—those who choose to give life, rather than those who take it away. They are always there, the helpers. They are the ones building memorials, getting the wounded to hospitals, establishing funds to support victims. Their embodiment of God’s love rebuilds my faith in the human family.

It strikes me that, in this Advent season, we look for the ultimate helper, don’t we? The ultimate embodiment of God’s love. The ultimate giver of life. The one who brings hope and promises peace to a world so sorely in need of healing.

Into this swirl of human shadows comes a helper in the form of a child, marked by the light of a star. May you find comfort in the promise of that star this Christmas season.

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (NRSV)

Susan Gottshall
Associate Executive Director, Communications
American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS)