It's been a strange advent season. Handel's Messiah gets a lot of airplay in our household, and hearing those lyrics taken from Isaiah and Malachi and Job while obsessively reading coverage of the non-indictments in Ferguson and Staten Island; the release of the CIA torture reports; the exoneration of Mubarek; and the executions, massacres, and rapes perpetrated by ISIS has brought home to me why people in every age have been prone to fantasies of divine intervention and restituiton.
Sometimes that intervention is imagined as compassionate healing and sometimes as wrathful purgation, but our broken world seems to need more than what ordinary human beings can provide. Of course, all the believers I admire--like all the atheists I admire--know that sitting around waiting for a solution from the outside is an abdication of our responsibility to our fellow creatures. Peace and justice don't descend from on high; they're entrusted to us.
It's Christmas, and we all deserve a few days off (speaking for myself, I'll be eating tamales and drinking margaritas). But I hope that all who celebrate it--whether we believe in a literal messiah or not--remember that his work is everyone's work.