December 18, 2012
Just a few thoughts...
Community GatheringFor Prayer and Remembrance of the Newtown TragedyBay Presbyterian Church SanctuaryWednesday, Dec. 19 7:00 PM
By now you've heard a lot from the media about the shootings in Newtown this past Friday. I know that you must be struggling to process such a horrific event; I certainly am. After hearing about it on Saturday, the shock was so recent and awful that I honestly did not know what to say or even how to pray on Sunday.
After talking to people, most are feeling a need just to be together, to get some reassurance from one another and from Scripture, and to pray for the folks in Newtown. So we are planning a gathering of the congregation and community tomorrow (Wednesday) evening at 7:00 PM in the Sanctuary. It will be that time of coming together under God's wings. Please feel free to invite friends or neighbors to come as well. In the meantime, let me offer some suggestions for processing these events.
First, allow yourself to weep and express your grief over this horrible tragedy. "Weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). God will be with you to comfort and console you, as He is with the families and friends of those who perished in Newtown. Pray for them and for all whose hearts have been broken by the murders. "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18). "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10). "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Second, know that we have a Savior and Friend who has experienced the worst of human evil Himself, and can therefore sympathize with those who are suffering and grieving. He is the King who endured the cross, the Conqueror who was crushed, the Savior who suffered. "He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). In our times of greatest need, a sympathetic Christ is there to offer us grace and mercy so that we can endure. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Finally, try to take a godly perspective on the shootings. Remember the God whose mercy never fails: "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23). Be reassured that God is in control of the sweep of all human events, and despite the evil acts of man, God's plan for good cannot be undone: "Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose'" (Isaiah 46:9-10). Confess your own sinfulness and need for a Savior (Romans 3:23), and thank God for His forgiveness and His salvation (Ephesians 1:1-14). In the end, this tragedy emphasizes both the truth of the Gospel and our need for it: that we are more sinful and broken than we ever dared to imagine, but in Christ we are also more loved and accepted than we ever dared to dream (Romans 5:8).
If you'd like some perspective from a more theological and philosophical point of view, check out my blog just posted at baypresblogs.com.
Father, we cannot imagine the depth of brokenness and sin that would lead someone to commit these unspeakable acts. Yet we too are sinful and depraved, and in desperate need of a Savior to cure our own sinfulness and brokenness. Thank you for sending Christ, whose love and grace can overwhelm even the deep evil played out in Newtown, and who is ever the Conqueror, even when Satan believes he has prevailed. Thank you for the knowledge that your wisdom is unsearchable, your sovereign plan inevitable, and your mercy unfailing. Be with us as we weep along with the people of Newtown. Bring them comfort, bind up their wounded hearts, and rain your grace and mercy down upon them in their time of need. Restrain those who would imitate the violence of Adam Lanza. Guard our hearts from the corrosion of unforgiveness and the crush of despair. Renew the hope of your people and our nation in your goodness and your transcendent greatness. May even this tragedy be used for good in your Kingdom. In Jesus' name, amen.
Grateful for His mercy,