By Rev. Larry Van Slambrook
St. Andrew's United Church of Christ
From Thanksgiving Day on, it seemed as though you could sense a growing atmosphere of joy and happiness in anticipation of the upcoming celebration of Christmas.
The stores filled with shoppers, the lighted trees and carol singing all added to the joy of the season.
Then came the news of the massacre of 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown, Conn. last Friday, which sent shock waves all across this country. We have felt the grief and pain of the parents and families of these children whose lives were taken and the adults who died trying to protect them.
How can we celebrate Christmas in the wake of this tragedy? What can help us find peace and joy in the midst of this storm? How can we respond to this tragedy in a way that honors those whose lives have been taken? There are no simple answers to these questions. However, there are some answers for us to consider.
First of all, turn to God in faith and trust. In God we find the resources of strength, peace, comfort and love. God can supply all our needs and can be trusted with every challenge and difficulty in our lives.
Secondly, take assurance in knowing that life continues for these childre beyond this life. In a eulogy for her son who was killed, a mother expressed her assurance of his life beyond this life when she said: “Take flight, my boy. Soar. You now have the wings you always wanted. Go to that peaceful valley that we will all one day come to know. I will join you someday. Until then, your melody will linger in our hearts forever.”
Thirdly, this Christmas give the gifts that are most valuable such as love, forgiveness, your time, and encouragement. These are priceless gifts that keep on giving.
Fourthly, share openly with others your tears, thoughts and feelings about what has happened. We can find strength and help in others.
Finally, be encouraged and blessed by the response evident in the Newtown community, which has come together in love and support of one another. A sign placed in town said “Our Hearts are Broken— Our Spirits are Strong. Another hopeful sign said simply “Love will get us through.”
Let us all continue to pray for this community as we celebrate the birth of God’s Son who came as a gift of love to live and die and rise again for each of us..