A few of still have vivid memories of what a horribly difficult year 1968 was. The Vietnam War was raging, the TET offensive killed thousands, and riots were happening on university campuses across the United States. In some cases, the spring semester of 1968 was stopped short due to the burning of buildings and the dangers of going to class or living on these campuses. Then came the horror of two assassinations, Martin Luther King, Jr. in April and Robert Kennedy in June. Since it was an election year, the Republican and Democratic conventions were held, each met with dangerous and desperate demonstrations, many of which ended in riots.
Yes, 1968 was a year of trouble, confusion, anger, and violence in many parts of the United States. Some of us who were teenagers at the time thought the whole world might be completely unraveling before our eyes. It was scary, and yet we as a nation somehow found it within us to keep going, to survive, to thrive in some ways, and to reinvest ourselves in the hope for a better future.
Does any of this sound remarkably familiar?
It’s no surprise that, over the past ten months, the year 2020 has become the brunt of many sickly jokes, flippant one-liners, and rolled eyes. 2020 has been tough on many levels.
So, fifty-two years beyond 1968, we need to move on from 2020. Few of us will be sad to see this year flipped over and eclipsed by a new year; in fact, most are eager to bid 2020 goodbye.
The advent of Emmanuel occurred in the big middle of some of the known world’s scariest and most uncertain times. As if the basic struggles for food, water, and shelter were not enough for that civilization to bear, political strong-arming and human cruelty were also the givens of the day as most people lived in fear of ending up on the wrong side of brute strength or getting caught in the crossfire between enemies.
It was into this world that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, exposing all his fragility and vulnerability to an often cruel world. And that has made all the difference in two worlds.