By now many of you feel overwhelmed by the tragic events in Newtown CT. It is not possible to wrap our minds around the grief, sadness, pain, and powerlessness that so many people around Sandy Hill Elementary School must be experiencing. Events like this also have the power to bring back trauma and grief in our own lives. Also, those of you who have children, especially younger children cannot help but take this story to heart.
Of course, in the church, we are already focused on Christmas with a cantata tonight, joy filled hymns tomorrow, a Christmas pageant next week, and Christmas Eve celebrations right around the corner. I will admit that the contrast between our celebrations and what we are seeing on the news right now is a bit disorienting and disconcerting. However, we need to be reminded that Jesus was born into a cruel and violent world living under Roman occupation and surrounded by disease and death. Jesus did not transform that world by means of miracles or revolution. However, his life and ministry, teachings and healings, death and resurrection shined a light in the darkness and reminded us that the darkness does not get the last word. He promises a day when all things will be made new, but we still live in that time between the coming of the Spirit and his second coming. We live in the time between glimpses of the kingdom and the kingdom revealed in all of it's glory. We know that the light is coming in all of it's fullness, but in the meantime (and sometimes it's a mean time), we bear the candles that push back the darkness.
We will pray tomorrow for all who have been devastated by this tragedy. I will reflect on it a bit as well. (although I will be keeping my references quite veiled for the sake of our younger children - our Sunday School teachers are being advised as to ways to address this or not!). We will be given words to say when we don't know what to say and things to do when we don't know what to do. However, we will also sing the praises of our coming Lord who fully identifies with us and makes all things new.
I hope that many of you will be joining us for our Cantata at 5PM tonight, featuring choir members, a string quartet, and many familiar Christmas carols (and a soup supper to follow for those able to stay). Many of us could use a little Christmas right about now. Also, we will be gathering at 8:15 and 11 AM tomorrrow to pray for those in need, to learn, grow ,and even have some fun around "Ask the Pastor" (Bring your questions about the Bible, church history, worship, St. Andrew's, Advent and Christmas, faith and daily life to help shape the morning message), and sing hymns to the One who was and is and is to come, the one who is our source of both deep longing and profound joy.
Thank you again for your incredible generosity to the mission of St. Andrew's and our mission partners in this season of giving. I am overwhelmed by the ways that you open your hands and hearts. It is a deep honor and tremendous privilege to serve as your pastor. Join us this weekend in our journey to Bethelehem. See you in church!