Response to the Elementary School Shootings in Newton, Connecticut
The world is too much with us this holy season. With the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown on December 14, the sweet songs of youth choirs heralding the Holy Birth are all but drowned out in responders’ sirens and parents’ wails. We weep, we all weep. And we wonder why. And hug the children and one another ever tighter.
We have joined the human family in the lament of the ages. Where are you, God, when tragedy strikes? Scripture tells of another time when a King Herod terrified everyone by his insane determination to kill all children up to two years of age, in order to destroy the Baby Jesus. The threat of God’s reign of goodness and mercy eclipsing his own was too great for Herod to accept (Matthew 2:16-18).
Surely, God does not desire such suffering. In my heart, I see Jesus weeping, large tears of love and sorrow staining his strong, sensitive face. What would He have us do with our tears? First, tend the victims and all families of those killed. Tend also the family of the shooter, for surely that family suffers as severely as the other victim families.
Then make the Holy Days holy! Whatever your faith, observe and practice it now, especially now! Pastors emailed wondering how they could carry on with pageants and concerts, carols and candles when their congregations were grieving. Now is the perfect time to proclaim our faith in the God who seeks life and wholeness for all people. Conduct Advent and Christmas programs, worship experiences and mission projects with greater vigor than ever before! Then go home and hug your family, and make others part of your family as well. Proclaim God’s reign of goodness and mercy up to the very doorstep of death and destruction. Herod will not have the last word!
And after this season of holiness reluctantly cedes to winter’s ways, let us gather in our communities, our states and our national capitol, to determine how we can build a society fit for all God’s children. Let us gather the best ideas and prayer-inspired insights to solve gun violence and racism and mental illness. For these are not impossible problems as long as we have the strongest of wills to put aside all prejudices and long-held convictions to see that we can defeat what is now defeating us.
It is a matter of faith-inspired will to spend one’s energy on what is truly important and life-giving. When we do that, we will be surprised by the presence of a powerful partner, our Very Creator and Sustainer, the One to whom all life is precious.
The, the longest night will become the longest day, and joyful hope will assume permanent residence in our souls.
A blessed and holy season to you and to those you hold close.