Tragedy in Connecticut: Preach the Gospel and Pray

I’m sitting here writing a sermon for Sunday. It is advent so following the traditional themes this week I’m supposed to preach on Joy. My process was interrupted with news of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Initial reports say that at least 27 are dead, of which 18 are children. CHILDREN. Not even high school students, it’s an elementary school. Who the hell shoots up an elementary school?

Even though this is almost 800kms away and in another country I have tears in my eyes. My initial response was anger, lots of anger and sadness. Outrage at what has transpired. I don’t wish to make this about me at all, but I need to write something because I’m so angry. This is also not about politics or the debate around gun control – there will be an appropriate time for that and it isn’t now.

First and foremost we need to acknowledge the anger. It’s appropriate to be angry. Innocent young children (and adults) have been stolen from us in the most violent of ways. First we must pray for the victims, their families and all the others personally connected to these events. Pray for the police, fire fighters, paramedics, doctors and nurses who must not only respond to this situation but likely deal with PTSD in the aftermath. As it appears the shooter is deceased, we must also pray for his family and friends who are likely in just as much shock as the rest of us.

I take some measure of comfort in Jesus words when he says “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) and I put my hope in His love for the rest (1 Tim 2:4).

I’m supposed to preach on Joy this Sunday and I’m not sure how to do that now. Do I forget this happened because it happened so far away? Regardless of the debates about the how and why that will eventually emerge, the only response to this immense evil is the Gospel message of Christ. I don’t honestly know how I’m going to change my sermon to reflect this fresh reminder of evil, but at times like these we need to remind people of the love of our Lord and Saviour, that He grieves with us and that because of Him there is always hope.

Right now we feel the reality that we live in the world of Psalm 22:1-2

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.

With prayer and His grace received through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we can move into the world of Revelation 21:4

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Sadly, there’s more evil to come between now and when His kingdom will completely come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Our response now however is to continue the work of the Gospel and let it illumine the light of the Gospel of Christ to a darkened world.

(I feel better now, thank for giving this space to write through this tragedy.)

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