My head hurts. I spent yesterday afternoon sitting at my desk sobbing. I know you are devastated too. The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has shaken everyone. The world feels like a terrible, terrible place.
Our prayers go forth for the people of Newtown.
Although, in the face of these pictures, I sputter when praying. I stop and start mid-sentence. What do you say to God? “Why?” “Jesus, hold them tight.” “Somehow, Holy One, bring comfort to the inconsolable.”
Words are hard to find.
The testimony of scripture is that God understands when our hearts are shattered and when we can’t put two words together. As the Apostle Paul puts it, at times like this, “the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”
And when we do cry and sigh on a day like this, I firmly believe that Christ sits down and weeps right alongside of us.
I also believe that when tragedies happen, the role of the church is not business as usual. Instead, our responsibility is to confront these evil acts and salve this deep sadness with the one thing that Christ entrusts to all of his disciples—the Gospel.
This Sunday we will do exactly that.
As you know, this Sunday is Pageant Sunday. We are going to have our Pageant. Our precious children are going to lead us in worship at both 9:30 and 11:00 AM. Their high-pitched voices are going to sing to us of deep truths. They are going to tell us the story of Christmas. And we are going to support them, surround them with our love, and celebrate their amazing faith.
After they finish singing, our little lambs are going to head downstairs to have snacks and frolic. Upstairs, we are going to talk candidly about the original setting for the Nativity. Friends, it was a brutal world that Mary and Joseph were navigating.
The enduring power of Christmas is that God does not shy away from awful circumstances and dark corners. Instead, the message of Christmas is that God comes to a messed up planet that desperately, desperately needs the Prince of Peace.
This One, who enters into our lives, even (or especially) when we are sobbing at our keyboards, is the One we journey toward this Advent. This is the only One deserving of our worship and praise.
And that’s what we will do Sunday.
See you in worship,