December 29, 2016
“The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” – Luke 2:10-11
The story of Jesus is a strange mix of hope and pain.
When we think of the Christmas story, we often think of nativity scenes, of a tiny baby, cute animals, and angels in the Heavens proclaiming peace and joy. But anyone who has read the Bible knows that while we celebrate the birth of this baby at Christmas; just a few months later at Easter, we remember his death.
I don’t know how many of us think that when we see a manger scene – this baby would grow up to be killed.
Today we are finishing the Christmas season, a time where we celebrate Christ’s coming. But today is also a day full of pain, because ten years ago they killed one of our AJS lawyers, Dionisio, on a Monday just like this one.
I led that day’s devotions, and I remember Dionisio had to leave a little early to go to the court, and shortly after they were calling us with the news.
For months afterwards, it was almost too much. We didn’t know what to do; I didn’t know what to do. That Christmas it was hard to believe in good news. It was hard to remember great joy. After these years and this pain, why are we still here? Why do we continue this work?
I believe that Dionisio’s death marked us, and continues marking us – it created in our organization a before and after. Before, we were working; now we are committed. Before, we weren’t completely sure of our place; now, we are confident that our work is a call from God.
We recognize that the same thing that happened to Dionisio could also happen to us. It could happen to those who work in some of Honduras’ most violent communities. It could happen to those who are putting gang members in jail. It could happen to those on the police purging commission – just a few weeks ago, one suffered a threat against his life, and one of his bodyguards lost his.
But stronger than any fear or pain or doubt is the hope that we have.
As we wait for Christmas day, we remember that Jesus came to earth knowing that he would die for us. And that from the tragedy of Jesus’ death came the hope of the world. In the same way, in this time of Advent, we acknowledge our pain for what has been lost. But we also know that out of this pain comes hope.
We continue in our work here for the same reasons that Dionisio continued in his – because we hope to someday see a different, more just Honduras for ourselves and for our children.
Dionisio died with that dream. We are called to live with it, working every day to bring it closer to reality.
Kurt Ver Beek