For the past ten days it has been almost impossible to escape discussion of the indescribable tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, CT. Words have failed us. What can one say in the face of such horror? We have tried to capture what is felt all across our nation …. unimaginable ….why….those poor parents …. I cannot imagine what they must be going through …horrific ….the loss of 20 innocent young people and the loss of innocence … and at this time of year …nothing we say can make sense of it.
It is ironic — that in a place called Newtown — a place that must have been formed by people who wanted something new, something different … a change … a new start. In this “new town” something so horrible has happened. Newtown, Ct.
The light in the midst of the darkness comes from the pictures of the citizens of Newtown who are coming together to support the grieving, to help the children, and to take steps to move forward. The tears, the hugs, the 26 Christmas trees lining a street — and so much more — show a community of faith and love choosing not to get stuck in tragedy but to live in faith with love. Church has been the center of the grieving community, religious leaders have crossed doctrinal lines, and people have joined together as one. The grace of God is seen working in the lives of people.
Writing about the encounter of Elizabeth and Mary [Luke 1:39-45], Henri Nouwen wrote:
How can I ever let God grace fully work in my life unless I live in a community of people who affirm it, deepen it, and strengthen it?”
To live in grace means that we are not isolated. Grace calls us to form relationships and friendships, and a new community.
Micah [5:1-4] says that a shepherd will come not in the big city of Jerusalem, but from a tiny, seemingly insignificant place called Bethlehem. Could it be that Jesus’ message of forgiveness, benevolence, and change might be calling out to us from Newtown, Ct. Could the cries of the mourning families be the word to all of us to — stop and do something. Is it possible that there is a star in the sky that wants to lead our nation and our community to a new place?
While a new debate begins on gun control, when questions are raised about how little we do to deal with mental illness — could we all ask: how do I deal with anger and violence? What is my attitude toward those who seem ‘odd”, “different”, “strange”?
If Jesus was born in Bethlehem — then why not Newtown? Why not Lake Charles? Why not Lafayette? Why not Beloit or Plain?
In a few days most of us will gather with family and friends. Let us see these people — the tables where we sit — as the community that will deepen my faith and affirm the goodness of mankind. Let us be like Elizabeth who sees the God within the person we greet.
Hopefully, we, like John the Baptist — will “leap” because we are with others, like me, want to make the world a better place.
The biggest expression spoken in recent weeks is: now is the time … we must do something, we must BE SOMETHING, to make sure that the tragedy of Newtown is the beginning of a different nation, a changed mindset, and a changed heart.
And where does this change begin — with me!