By Reverend Barbara Sexton
"The Biblical Biochemist-Where Science Meets the Cross"
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"19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
(1 Thessalonians 5:19-23 NIV)
May the meditations of my heart and the words of my mouth be acceptable in thy Sight, my Rock and my Redeemer. AMEN
As the world knows by now, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT has been witness to a horrible tragedy.
Twenty young lives were cut short, along with six adults.
Terror reigned on Friday, December 14, 2012 and was replaced with implacable grief.
Implacable in the sense that absolutely nothing can diminish, modify or mitigate such grief.
Implacable in that all attempts to 'explain, rationalize, and understand' the events that led up to this sad time truly and utterly fail.
We are left only with the knowledge that our mourning knows no bounds. All we can do is point to this and that as the 'cause'...knowing full-well that we can use this opportunity to be our 'noblest selves', or, in some cases, our 'rankest'.
Grieving allows for a certain degree of hostility and anger and finger-pointing and we sure are seeing it on Internet message boards jammed with commentary, accusations and blame-placing.
If ONLY we were 'expert' enough to parse through to the TRUTH which would do away with mindless violence once and for all! What decent person in their right mind would refuse to take the logical steps necessary avoid cruel shootings in the future? Not one, we want to say...No, if only we can come to an accord, all would be well.
But we live in a diverse society and one wonders if we all--people of faith, agnostics, atheists, mental health professionals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, gun rights lobbyists, gun control lobbyists, gamers and non-gamers, parents and non-parents and all others--can ever agree on anything long enough for it to make a positive difference.
Then, even in the midst of this tumult, one does see an abundance of good wishes and prayers. Money and other assistance are freely donated. People volunteer and console each other. Tears flow, hugs ensue and we struggle on trying to live with our losses as best as we can, and hope is somewhat restored.
Of course, the subject of 'faith' comes up, and, as usual, there is 'debate' that ranges from the 'truly blasphemous' to the 'super self-righteous'. Embedded in this rhetoric is the very question of whether God even exists, and if so, 'how He can possibly let a shooting like at Sandy Hook Elementary School even happen if He is so good'?
This is a question that we cannot completely answer. The closest we can get, as Christians, is to emphasize that God weeps with us and that we realize that this 'earthly existence' is but a fleeting moment in our 'eternal existence'.
And we will also add that, 'someday, God will help us understand what there is for us to understand'. 'He will take all pain away', we say, and we are comforted by this.
To some who mourn, this can sound absurd. It sounds practised, pedantic and predictable.
Even worse, it can seem 'cold and detached'--some even saying that 'God was absent that day, Friday, December 14, 2012 in Newtown, CT, that morning at Sandy Hook Elementary.
But mark this well--
God is never so present than when humans insist He is not.
In matters of faith, it is not about government officials giving important speeches...It's not about someone bloviating on cable t.v....And it's not about smart doctors and popular faith leaders who help us move on...
It's everyday people that make the difference, especially those who believe sincerely in a good and powerful God. It's the 'faith community'. A time like this brings out the very best...and the very worst in all of us, which, for Christians, is exemplified by believers, collectively, known as the 'body of Christ'.
This 'body of believers' mourns together now and wonders when 'it' will ever end.
Eventually we will be 'cried out', a thing shown to be true, time and time, again. Then we will be able to do what we couldn't do before, for--
As a fire purifies and tempers metal, our tears will make things clearer.
Yes, amidst the grief, we have faith that we will find a practical solution to prevent violence, such as that so recently manifested at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Such a solution seems far off right now, with each 'side' as passionate in their views as the other. So what do we need to do to effect change in view of the death of the innocent children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary?
Right now, our main concern is 'getting through the holidays', including managing a way to provide 'Christmas for the kids'. This is a real challenge for Christians this year.
Some have even suggested that Christmas lights be 'doused' out of respect for...and in remembrance of...the little children taken from the families and all of us. Some have even gone so far as to actually take down their Christmas lights and decorations.
As for myself, I decided 'just' to light the Holy Family out front yesterday. That seemed appropriate and I would never let anything so affect me as to forget how joyful and thankful I am for the birth of our Savior.
It's baby Jesus, after all.
So for those of us with faith...or even an inkling of faith...light you Christmas lights or don't, as you feel is proper.
Maybe if the multi-colored decorations of happiness seem like 'too much' this year, why not put a single light in a window to welcome the Christ child?
Or...perhaps a light in every window, in the Mennonite tradition, as we celebrate a wondrous birth in the midst of destruction.
As a loving parent would not fail to celebrate their own child's birthday at this time, we can choose to celebrate Jesus's birthday.
We will do this for our children and grandchildren--not disrespecting the deceased and their survivors...but honoring a very LIVING Christ!
Yes, respectfully and joyfully, we will celebrate this Christmas, with a care to remembering to serve our brothers and sisters who--for one reason or another--find themselves in material, psychological and spiritual need.
Together, today, we love others, Christmas lights turned on or not...knowing full well that the most important 'Christmas light' of all is the one burning in our hearts for our Lord Jesus.
With Love in Christ,
Rev. Barbara Sexton
"The Biblical Biochemist-Where Science Meets the Cross"
God Bless and keep the little children. Rest In Peace.
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