December 31st, 2007
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“What came to be through him was life, and this life was
the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness and
the darkness has not overcome it.”
As I write this, a little less than two weeks before Christmas,
I am envisioning a solemn procession of lighted candles being carried
down the main aisle of St. John’s Church here on campus. A
single bell tolls for each one.
These were not the usual holiday candles or even the meditative
candles of Advent. These were memorial candles for a horror that
unfolded exactly a week ago as I write this: the shooting rampage
at Omaha’s Westroads Mall on December 5th that killed nine
people, including the gunman.
Ironically, those unforgettable candles speak to St. John’s
message even more strongly than our normal joyous Christmas candles.
They remind us that we believe that life is stronger than death
and that darkness cannot overcome the light that Jesus brought into
That’s hard to believe at times but it speaks of our fundamental
identity as Christians. I’m no Pollyanna. Life is full of
hardship, tragedy and loss like the carnage at Westroads. Good people
die far too young of cancer, heart attacks and in auto accidents
and natural disasters. The longer we live, the better acquainted
we become with loss.
Yet in spite of this, we Christians persist in believing in the
power of hope and in trying to live as people of hope. That’s
what this season is about.
We should not forget that December 25th is only the beginning of
a season of hope and love, and especially a time for showing concern
for those who most need it. It is up to each of us to join with
Christ to prove the truth of today’s wonderful passage from
to the writer of this reflection.
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