As I read the names of those who died, my first reaction is to weep at the senseless waste of so many lives.Six professional women who dedicated themselves to helping others. Twenty children, mostly in the first grade, all ages six or seven:
- Charlotte Bacon (2/22/06), 6 years old, female
- Daniel Barden (9/25/05), 7 years old, male
- Rachel Davino (7/17/83), Staff member, 29 years old, female
- Olivia Engel (7/18/06), 6 years old, female
- Josephine Gay (12/11/05), 7 years old, female
- Ana M. Marquez-Greene (4/4/06), 6 years old, female
- Dylan Hockley (3/8/06), 6 years old, male
- Dawn Hochsprung (6/28/65), Principal, 47 years old, female
- Madeleine F. Hsu (7/10/06), 6 years old, female
- Catherine V. Hubbard (6/8/06), 6 years old, female
- Chase Kowalski (10/31/05), 7 years old, male
- Nancy Lanza, 52 years old, female (mother of shooter Adam Lanza)
- Jesse Lewis (6/30/06), 6 years old, male
- James Mattioli (03/22/06), 6 years old, male
- Grace McDonnell (11/4/05), 7 years old, female
- Anne Marie Murphy (7/25/60), Staff member, 52 years old, female
- Emilie Parker (05/12/06), 6 years old, female
- Jack Pinto (05/05/06), 6 years old, male
- Noah Pozner (11/20/06), 6 years old, male
- Caroline Previdi (9/07/06), 6 years old, female
- Jessica Rekos (5/10/06), 6 years old, female
- Avielle Richman (11/17/06) 6 years old, female
- Lauren Rousseau (June 1982), Staff member, 30 years old, female
- Mary Sherlach (2/11/56), Staff member, 56 years old, female
- Victoria Soto (11/04/85), Staff member, 27 years old, female
- Benjamin Wheeler (09/12/06), 6 years old, male
- Allison N. Wyatt (07/03/06), 6 years old, female
I read a story about a cluster of trees planted to fence in a pasture. Each tree had barbed wire hammered into the bark. Years later, if you examined the trees you could plainly see some were severely disfigured by the intrusion of the wire. But other trees recovered beautifully. They grew around the barbed wire and grew tall and full. Why? I don’t know and the story never explained.
But, I found in the story answers toward finding comfort and healing from tragedy. Like barbed wire, trauma can be intense and long lasting but what happens next often determines how well we recover. Will we be forever scarred or is there a way absorb the pain and continue our growth, stronger and wiser for the experience?
What should we do?
1. We mourn and grieve openly knowing we are not alone.
2. We pray for the victims, their families, their friends, the students, the faculty.
3. We pray for man who shot them not because we want to but because we are Christian.
4. We remember and learn what we can.
5. Be the church: Pray, Mourn, Inspire, Teach, Be a Witness.
6. We take our role as citizens seriously.
7. We take our role as Christians seriously.
8. We teach our children. Every day lives can be changed.
9. We look for opportunities to practice kindness toward others.
10. We look for the opportunities God gives us each day to practice our faith.
Paul wrote: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down but God never abandons us. We get knocked down but we get up again and keep going.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9) Do you see what God promises in the midst of tragedy? We are pressed from every side but not crushed. We are perplexed but we never give up. We are hunted down but never abandoned. We are knocked down but we get up again.
The secret to getting over this tragedy is how you choose to respond.
• Romans 12;5 – Depend on each other as one body in Christ.
• Romans 12:15 – Weep with each other, when we often want to weep alone.
• Romans 15:14 – Counsel and teach each other, when we want to jut hear from God.
• 1 Cor. 12:25 – Care for each other.
• 1 Thess. 5:11 – Encourage and build each other up.
• Ephesians 5:21 – Submit to each other…
• Eph. 4:2 – Uphold each other…
• Hebrews 10:24 – Stir up love for each other and share it…
• 1 Peter 4:10 – Minister to each other, so God’s generosity is shared and not just enjoyed.
• James 5:16 – Tell each other what we have done wrong to experience healing.
• Galatians 6:2 – Bear each other’s burdens when all we want to do is take them to God.
We admit we need each other. We admit we need God. Most of us were raised to be tough and isolated as if we need no one. That is so wrong. Jesus himself modeled the word connection by connecting with others and with God.
From connection we go to community. It just means you are part of something bigger than yourself. Newtown Connecticut is a community that is pulling together to find healing in the midst of tragedy.
Times like this force us to make hard choices. The world would say, this tragedy proves there is no God… I say this is where you find God. The world would say, give up. I say We’re just getting started.
Everyone can pray.
Everyone can look for someone to help.
Everyone can look for someone to listen to.
Everyone can look for a ministry, roll up your sleeves and do it.
Everyone can hold your head high and say to the world, “I belong to Jesus Christ.”
Jesus said in Matthew 28: “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Older translations say, “Surely I am with you…”
Surely I am with you to the end of the age.
Surely I am with you when you are down, when you are up, when you are torn, when you are whole.
Surely I am with you when 27 lives are cut short senselessly.
Surely I am with you when life makes no sense because I will offer comfort and hope.
Surely I am with you… because I will help you find connections in the midst of tragedy and despair…
Surely I am with you…
Nikki Giavanni said after another tragedy: We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.
We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.
We embrace our own and reach out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.
We will prevail. We will prevail. We will prevail.
More than that; We are God’s children, And God says to each of us:
Surely, I am with you to the end of the age.
Surely, I am with you…
Surely… I am with you…