In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
This advent season we close a year permeated with atrocity, a year punctuated by a seemingly endless stretch of tears and flags at half-staff. The promising lives of far too many of God’s children–Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, those in Nice and at the Pulse nightclub, police officers in Dallas, and many others–were all tragically and abruptly ended. In the midst of unspeakable acts of violence, it can be all too easy to be disheartened and believe that the “peace and goodwill towards men” that the shepherds once proclaimed is now an unattainable ideal.
However, as we await the birth of Christ in the shadow of these atrocities, it is even more important that we as Christians and citizens of the global community redouble our efforts to foster peace and goodwill toward each other. Even though large and senseless acts of violence are what demand the media’s attention, peace and goodwill overcome hate–and it starts with the simple day-to-day interactions that we all have as members of the Westminster community, as well as the many ways in which the church is a catalyst for good in the Alexandria community.
This advent, consider stepping outside the humdrum of everyday life to spread goodwill among your neighbors. Bestowing the joy of the birth of Christ upon others can be as simple as a friendly greeting in the grocery store line or a cozy hat hung on the Mitten Tree. Even when the news is dominated by violence abroad and anxiety about whether our nation will remain a beacon of hope, be emboldened by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”