As most people, and especially parents, I sat speechless, horrified and broken over the senseless evil at an elementary school in Connecticut on Friday. I have 3 little girls, two of them in a local elementary school and so my mind immediately goes to how horrified and utterly broken these parents and families must be.
And yes, I watch as debates rage over different policies, legislation - much of which flows from heavy hearts who want justice and want to somehow prevent anything like this from ever happening again. I get that, but I think this tragedy begs even deeper questions and reveals something more primal and real.
First of all, it calls us to care. What many need now is not promises of tighter laws and a stronger hand. They need comfort, care and to know that even though everything around us is all wrong... we love, we care and we cry with you. This is not what is supposed to be --- this is all wrong, all evil and unfortunately it's the reality of this dark world. However, even in the midst of darkness, there are lights, people who love, people who care and people who will stand with you in the pain.
Second, it begs the question why? Why would this happen? Why would someone be so brutal? Why would God sit idly by while the world falls? I don't know that this is the time to fully unpack these questions -- but allow me to share a few brief thoughts: The Bible describes what we are seeing (unfortunately). While the media and general culture has been pushing this idea that we're all basicaly good and that everyone should get a trophy because we're all winners -- the Bible has been telling a different story. A story we don't like to look at, but the truth according to the Bible is that because of sin our world is broken. Evil resides around us and in us all. Thankfully it is very supressed and some basic levels of morality keeps it in check for most, but when you see and hear these horrifying stories (and this isn't an isolated incident) we are reminded that our world (and all of us) are indeed in need and broken.
And the Bible also makes clear that God does care, that incidents of utter evil break His heart, move His emotions and call for His response. And no, God did not sit idly by. In fact, as we are in this season of Christmas we are reminded that the greatest act of grace and justice by our God was enacted. Jesus, God's Son, was sent, not to start a new religion, not to be a good teacher, and not to give another holiday. Jesus was sent on a rescue mission, a redemption mission to reclaim what was lost in sin. Sin, the cause of the brokenness and evil had to be dealt with, once and for all.
While legislation, laws and things can be helpful to restrain they don't deal with the cause, the deeper issue. God refuses to put a band aid -- but He came, in person to do what none of us could do for ourselves. He died on a cross, facing the brutality of evil men, carrying on Himself the sin and evil of all people (which was only possible because He is God). And then 3 days later He rose from death, proving once and for all that He indeed was and is God and conquering the brokenness.
However, this rescue/redemption mission is ongoing. You see, His act of sacrifice is finished, but our response is still pending. Those who choose to recieve His grace and put thier hope and trust in what He did that fateful day find themselves on a new path, a new creation (the Bible calls it) and a new potential to live differently and to join the redemptive mission in the world (helping others find Jesus). Unfortunately many choose to live in darkness, find thier own way and reject God's offer of healing and reconciliation.
Regardless, God still cares and still comes. He is near to the brokenhearted, and a comforter of those in pain. As a parent and as a pastor, I am personally shaken from this whole mess and deeply hurting. Which, I think is why I call us all to the unfortunate reality of the world we live in and the glorious hope found in the God we trust in (even when all looks dark).
I am thankful for Christmas because it's in that true story we see a God who enters into the mess, becomes one of us so that He might save us. I pray we all will turn to trust in Him and find the comfort, light and hope that He brings.
At Grace Church Roseville we are in the middle of a series called "Jesus" where we are examining this remarkable person & rediscovering who God truly is. The series continues from Christmas through Easter every Sunday at 9 or 10:45a. All are welcome at Grace Church on any weekend -- we'd love to see you!