Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 22, 2012

Religion And Politics Don't Mix, Major Religious Groups Tell Presidential Candidates; 25 Percent Of Super PAC Money Coming From Just 5 Rich Donors; POLL: Men, Evangelicals Boost Santorum; Southern Baptist Leaders OK 'Great Commission'; Obama Budget: Grow Prisons and Keep Gitmo; The Failure Of Austerity Politics (OPINION); Atheist Alain de Botton Insists Society Needs Guidance From Religion; Access To Good, Healthy Food Should Be A Basic Human Right; Protesters To GOP Candidates: Don't DREAM Halfway.

Christmas Mourning

"Holy Family's flight to Ethiopia." Image via http://bit.ly/w3Z2K9

"Holy Family's flight to Ethiopia." Image via http://bit.ly/w3Z2K9

In the Incarnation, Christ brings hope to a world where, for the time being, Herod is still king, and all is not as it should be. Christmas includes the story of a terrible genocide — a traumatic refugee experience for young Jesus and his parents, and all the worse for those parents who were not warned in a dream and thus did not escape to Egypt before their infant sons were murdered — but as evangelicals we seldom reflect on this part of the story. (Catholic & Anglican Christians remember these victims on the Feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28, a practice I adopted for the first time last year.)

The great hope of Christmas, though, is that it represents the entry into history of a Prince of Peace, who will eventually dethrone Herod and Caesar and set all things right. We’re still living in that tension: Christ’s kingdom has been inaugurated but is not here in fullness yet, as the injustice of last December’s DREAM Act vote and a thousand other tragedies of poverty, conflict, and marginalization throughout our globe remind us. So Christmas is a time for mourning and for hopeful joy: and it is entirely right that Advent is a time of eager and expectant yearning. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!