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Advent Reflections: Coping with the Red Dragon


Editor's note: This Advent season, Bread Blog will be running a series of reflections written by lay members of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. This post is reprinted, with permission, from the church's 2013 Advent Meditations booklet.

By Helen Williams

Lectionary reading:

Revelation 12:1-9

In today's scripture we encounter the "Great Red Dragon with seven heads and ten horns . . . that serpent of old whose name is Satan or the Devil."  Once again I pondered that Red Dragon, which is far more than selfishness, unkindness, and gluttony, but true evil.

How can one's belief in a loving God reconcile with the evil in the world!

A possible answer is provided later in the book of Revelation:  "The Red Dragon was worshipped by all except those whose names the Lord that was slain keeps in his roll of the living, written since the world was made."  That predestination-type concept would explain evil: some people as God's true people and the others are lesser beings.  I simply don't buy that explanation.  What other explanations are there?

How are we to cope with senseless evil?  There are those whose professions require them to confront the horrors head on.  A former forensic doctor I met dealt with the victims of horrible crimes.  Years later she can only go to the movies that are gentle, such as Disney, Pixar, or romantic comedies.  I salute the psychiatrists and police who have a courage that takes them into the dark corners of life.

I have concluded that it is counterproductive to dwell on dark matters when I can't prevent them. I don't want to spend my hours paying attention to that Red Dragon. And then I think of the wise advise in Philippians 4:8:

“And now, my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable—fill all your thoughts with these things.”

In this time of Advent we can focus on that new birth—the child who showed us that the true way is love.

Helen Williams  is a member of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, in Washington, D.C.



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