A Response to the tragedy in Newtown, CT

Today’s post will deviate from my usual thoughts about weight loss, healthy habits, body image, etc. The following is a note that I sent to my parishioners and posted on my church’s facebook page last night. It seemed appropriate to post it here as well. Until next time, peace …

I have been “off the grid” for most of the day and arrived home just a short time ago to the news of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. My heart breaks for the victims of this tragedy, their families, their community and our nation as a whole. Situations like this are evidence of humanity’s brokenness and they often lead us to ask the question, “why?” In the coming hours and days, we will be bombarded with reports and commentaries espousing a wide spectrum of views on why such a tragedy has happened and who is responsible. As with similar recent tragedies, well-meaning people will likely say things like “It was part of God’s plan” or “Everything happens for a reason.” I must tell you that words like this make me bristle. The God I know in Jesus Christ does not use natural disasters or human-caused massacres as a reward or punishment. I do believe that God is able to reach into the sin and death of situations like this to bring healing and life, but this is different than the engineering of a tragedy for a greater purpose. The God I serve and proclaim to the world does not desire or cause human suffering.

In the days and weeks ahead, the media and our justice system will no doubt do their best to answer the question of “why” in the most literal sense. They will seek to uncover the shooter’s motives and get a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances, but I suspect that even if we do get answers to these questions, it will not be enough. In our deepest sense, the question of “why” is not really a request for a logical explanation as there is no logical explanation that can justify or make sense of the senseless. Rather, the question of “why” is more of an expression of grief, a cry of the heart that is as timeless as humanity itself. Expressions of grief are holy and necessary in times like this because as we work through our grief, we find hope. In the midst of such tragedy, we see hope in the kindness and compassion of people who rush to the scene to help. We see love and support from individuals and communities who gather to pray. In the end, the shooter does not have the last word. Actually, none of us has the last word. That honor belongs to the indestructible love of God.

During this Advent season we are reminded of that indestructible love of God: the God who took on human flesh to understand humanity’s pain and suffering; the God we know as Emmanuel, meaning “God with us.” In the midst of such tragedies we cling to the fact that God is indeed with us. May that fact provide hope and light for us in the days ahead.

Deep peace to each of you …

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