It came upon a violent midnight

The police and emergency responders were called to the 1400 block of Southwest Boulevard (the same block as Rainbow Mennonite Church) near midnight on December 3. A gathering of teenagers and community members had gotten out of hand and violence broke out. Two teenagers now gone from the world—one killed by gunfire and the other died later after being hit by a car trying to get away. So many teens and families now in utter shock, their lives will never be the same. We continue to meet some of these individuals as they make their way back to the 1400 block of Southwest Boulevard to light candles, cry, and seek to make sense of something absurdly senseless.

We hope and pray that these teens and their loved ones will face the pain and hurt in ways other than taking revenge. And yet revenge is all too often the chosen recourse and as a result, the cycles of violence and retribution go on and on. More teens gone way too soon from this world. More lives forever altered—left behind grieving midnight after midnight after midnight.

Recently during a restless night, I thought about another midnight that Christians sometime sing about in December. “It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth, to touch their harps of gold. Peace on the earth, good will to all.”

The music associated with this carol is rather maudlin for my taste, but the text speaks truth and comfort to me, especially this year. Too many bullets have been unleashed in schools, homes, parking lots, alleyways, businesses, churches, etc. Too many guns. Period. The glorious midnight song of angels bringing and speaking peace, which I still believe can be found and heard, is too often drown out by shouts and shots.

And so perhaps I will sing (maybe cry?) these words all the louder this year. Will you join in?

“Still through the cloven skies they come, with peaceful wings unfurled, and still their heavenly music floats over all the weary world. Above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hovering wing, and over its Babel sounds, the blessed angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife, the world has suffered long; beneath the heavenly hymn have rolled two thousand years of wrong, and warring humankind hears not the tidings which they bring. O hush the noise and cease your strife and hear the angels sing.

The carol ends with a picture of humankind sending back the song of peace and good will to all. So to those who, in the days to come, will come rest and grieve along the road we call Southwest Boulevard, we hope the song of angels will come to you and touch your weariness. And to those of us who continue to worship along Southwest Boulevard, let’s listen too, for how we might let the angel’s song of peace sing through our lives and actions.    

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