Christmas Mourning in Newtown Connecticut
I have spent this past week in the company of hundreds of elementary school children. I pick up and drop off Adam and Sophia every school day - so I have grown accustomed to many of the same faces of children and parents.
With the two Christmas presentations this week - I have spent even extra time at the school and with the kids.
And that is why I almost threw up when I heard the news coming out of Newton Connecticut - which is 4 hours from Ithaca New York - the town we are relocating to next year.
A 20 year old man entered an elementary school and started shooting. At the end of his rampage 27 people were killed including 18 .... children.
He shot and killed 18 children.
Children like my children.
Children like the kids I see everyday.
Children who probably sang at Christmas concerts this past week for proud parents.
(Sunday December 16 Update - Total Number killed 28 - 20 children, 6 teachers, shooter and shooter's mother.)
Today has become a day of soul searching.
A day of mourning.
A day for prayer.
A day for questions -
What has happened to the soul of America?
What kind of culture produces such an epidemic of violence?
What kind of man kills children?
How do we heal?
I am stunned, saddened, sickened and tired of this.
It seems these events pop up with semi regularity in our age. Columbine, Virginia Tech
But now, we have devolved from University and High School campuses down to elementary school playgrounds.
We are well into this season of peace and joy.
But the store front facade has been shot and killed by this gunman's bullets.
Jesus was born at a time when children were also being killed.
Families were in mourning when he was born.
Two thousand years later and 18 families in Newtown Connecticut will celebrate this Christmas with gifts under a tree but, with no children to open them.
And still Jesus is the only one who can walk with them (and us) out of the jagged, bloody ruins of tragedy -not necessarily into a world where it is all made better again.
But a world in which the pain is comforted.
Where the memories can be redeemed.
Where hope of reunion is ignited.
Because Jesus also endured a gunman's bullets.
He also experienced the pain of family loss (the father turned his face away).
And he walked out the other side - wounds still on his body, but healed.
And that's the hope left to the bereaved families: Wounded but healed.
But - today - today is a day of ashes and sack cloth.
Today is a day for:
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.
Take some time today to pause and weep for the many "Rachels",
the weeping fathers
the traumatized brothers and sisters
who will be weeping through this Christmas season.
Mourn with those who mourn - Romans 12:15.