As we think of the deaths of so many in Newtown, Connecticut, we know a couple of things. As our president said, our hearts are broken. But we also know, as William Sloan Coffin reminded us so many years ago, that God’s heart was the first to break – over the brokenness in the mind of young Adam and then for all that happened at his hand to so many precious children and their teachers. God weeps along with all of us for their families and classmates, for the first responders, the care givers, and for all of us who now need to think “what is our response?”
There’s a particular horror for Christians that it happened in this season – this season of light. But this season can also be the source of comfort and even hope for us. It’s at this season that we remember in a focused way, the presence of God.
At Advent and Christmas, we remember that God loves us so much as to come in person, as a vulnerable child, to walk with us. To be hungry like us, cold, tired at times, and eventually to die just like we do. In this season we think of God as Immanuel – God with us. A God of ultimate love, who walks in ultimate solidarity with us.
And so we know that even in our pain God is with us, and God gets it. We can turn to God with our anger and hurt and questions and dismay. We can lean on God’s presence for comfort and rest. And we can draw on God for strength – to help us find the energy to reach out to those who are so grievously injured in this – and to find the commitment to work for a day when children of God are not subject to violence – either in classrooms or on city streets.
O God receive our tears, we pray. Take our questions upon yourself. Turn our anger into righteous action representing your love for every person you have created. Give us strength that we who have experienced such horror may nevertheless be messengers of your peace and the embodiment of your love. In the name of the vulnerable child, Jesus, and the ever-present risen Christ, we pray. AMEN
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