A response to the tragedy in Newtown, CT

My eyes have been glued to the TV watching hour after hour of news coverage of the devastating events today in Newtown, CT.  My heart aches.  I cannot bare watching another minute of the news, but I can’t turn my eyes away.

I don’t have answers.  I only have questions.  I want to know the shooter’s motives, something tangible to answer the “Why?” we all ask.  But, our question is far greater than the shooter’s motives.  Our question is aimed at God.  Why?  Why do things like this happen?  Why does You allow this to happen?

Please don’t be consoled by the notion that things happen for a reason.  The God I worship does not use the senseless massacre of innocent children as the evil means to any spiritual end.  A CNN anchor reported a deacon in the Newtown parish responds to the many people who are asking, “Why?” with “There are some questions only God can answer.”

Please don’t be comforted by the belief that something good will come of this tragedy.  There have been, for far too long and too often, mass killings around the nation.  The only good that has come is that authorities are more ready to respond to these tragedies.  There has been no increased coverage for mental health disorders or control of gun ownership.  Know that I say this as a person who copes with bipolar disorder and comes from a family who values gun ownership for hunting.

I am reminded of the Biblical response to a Bethlehem massacre.  When King Herod discovered that the Magi had not returned with a report about the newborn King, Herod had the male children under 2 years of age ripped from their mothers’ arms and brutally killed.  The writer of the Gospel according to Matthew borrowed from the prophet Jeremiah for his response: Matthew 2:18 and Jeremiah 31: 15 read:
A voice was heard in Ramah,
           weeping and much grieving.
                Rachel weeping for her children,
                     and she did not want to be comforted,
                          because they were no more.

The God I know and love weeps at this time, like Rachel.  God grieves the life of 26 people and cries with their families and loved ones.  And, yes, God shows grace to the shooter.

All I can do, everything I can do, we can do is pray.

God, our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ hear our prayer.  We turn to you in this difficult time with questions and disbelief.  You sustain us in joy and in pain; today, we turn to you with aching hearts.  Amidst our lives, certainly in our mourning, you are there.
The townspeople of Newtown, CT and the students and school employees of Sandy Hook Elementary School seek answers and relief.  Reveal Yourself to the community showing your unfailing love that they may know your overflowing goodness.  Enfold in your arms those feeling forsaken that they may feel close to You.   Strengthen the men and women serving to protect the community, find answers, and unite loved ones that they may have the energy to keep going though they grow weary after long hours.
Encourage the nation to enter into conversations about mental health and gun control.  You have blessed the medical world with answers about and treatments for mental health disorders – may that medical care be made available to all.  Help us to seek a compromise on gun control to make weapons less available to those who would use them to do harm.
Protect the children of this nation from further catastrophe.  May all children have the opportunity to learn without fear of death.  Bless the school employees who seek to educate our young ones.  Bless the police, fire, and EMT workers who seek to keep us safe.

Comfort us until at last we are all united eternally through Christ Jesus our Redeemer who lives and reigns with you now and forevermore.  Amen.

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