My heart is certainly with the people of Texas who are in the midst of devastation and loss. But this morning I am also thinking of the people outside Fayetteville whose homes are still uninhabitable from the storm, Matthew, last fall, and then my thoughts (for some unknown reason) turned to the tragedy of Sandy Hook. Maybe I am thinking about this because, for me, it has become the definition of tragedy… children, five and six-year-old children being shot to death in a school, a place of safety – still chills me to the bone.
On this day, as I remember, when we all are still grieving with grieving parents and holding confused, scared and saddened children in our prayers … when we lament and cry out “How long, O Lord” when we seek answers to such violence in this world, we hear words that God came (and comes) for such days, for mornings such as this, for us all. Please accept the words from the heart of Thom Shuman.
Once again, we are reminded about the meaning of this bleak midwinter we call Advent. For God did not come to create a greeting card industry, nor that we could string lights on houses and trees. God did not become one of us so we might have office parties and give people things they don’t really need. God was not born so songs could be written and sermons preached.
God came for such mornings as this, after the long night of anguished tossing and turning, with visions of horror dancing in our heads. God came to walk with us as we wander the streets of our hearts asking, ‘how? why? when?’
God came to huddle with terrified children in closets where school supplies are stored, and to give teachers the strength not to show their worst fears. God came to cradle the wounded and the dying, so they would know they were not abandoned in that loneliest of moments.
God came to give the first responders the courage to walk into the unspeakable, willing to put themselves between danger and little children. God came to gather the parents and grandparents up into the divine lap of comfort and hope, even as their arms would no longer be able to embrace their child. God came to have that most compassionate heart-broken as many times as ours are, to weep with us even when we have run out of tears, to stand next to us with the same look of horror and disbelief.
God came for mornings such as this, with the same haggard face, with the same questions, with the same anger, with the same sense of loss and hopelessness, but with deep wells of grace from which we can drink, with compassion which will never end, with comforting arms which will not grow weary, with hope which stretches from everlasting to everlasting.
God came, and is still with us… in this disaster, in all disasters, in all times and in all places.
Dear Lord, we know that you in no way cause tragedy to happen so that you could have more angels in heaven… that would be tragic … but we know, as Thom said, you were there in the closets with those children, in the courage of those teachers and in the broken hearts of parents and families who lost their precious little ones. Help us, O Lord, to become part of the healing process with our prayers and actions and thoughts in and through Jesus. Amen.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members.