We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
(Psalm 124:7, NRSV)
It is not from Fukushima City that I write. I am sitting with my nephew and brother in his underground, home office. Outside the snowfall barely sticks to the ground as the winds of a winter storm blow with gusto. Yet we are safe in the warm coziness of this space. Warmth, shelter, family and even a little bit of work. It is here that I write.
Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs from the first years of our Saviour’s life. In a world seeming to grow in violence and oppression there is a word that the Word frustrates the designs of evil. And whereas Satan, through Herod could not abort the deliverance of God, then so it is true that Satan now defeated, the snare now broken, cannot stop the advance of the Gospel of the Kingdom in this or any age. We are as birds escaped from the fowler’s snare. The snare is broken. Thanks be to the Lord.
As my heart now turns to thoughts of Fukushima I am reminded of my former student who’s son committed suicide last year. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more. And yet, the last Sunday of Advent, when the Japan Lutheran Church celebrates Christmas, her and her husband became followers of Jesus in the sacrament of Holy Baptism. Satan cannot abort the deliverance of our God.
My student’s story is sadly one of a large number who is taken victim by him who holds the power of death and whose native language is lies. The experience last spring of this young man’s premature death is a call to wake up, to be alert; for while we are idle, Satan is busy working to destroy the race of men and Jesus weeps.
But the truth of the Gospel is present in this one line—”the snare is broken.” If Satan is the fowler then death is the snare and its teeth and bindings sin. This contraption, this device of hell is broken. Therefore, where the enemy is bringing attack against Fukushima, where people take their own lives overcome in despair, where individuals reclude themselves from the fellowship of others because they are bound in fear, where people doubt their capacity so much that they refuse to venture into the world I pray love, love, love came down, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day and the snare is broken! People of Fukushima, fly as the freed birds you are on the wind of God’s Spirit!
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayer Request: The newly baptized couple at Izumi Lutheran Church who are still grieving the loss of their beloved son.