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Where Was God?
As we reflect on the birth of the Christ child with heavy hearts this Advent season, let us remember that the story of Jesus actually begins with the senseless mass murder of children. King Herod attempts to eradicate the Messiah by ordering his soldiers to kill every firstborn child throughout the region. This peculiar story of a God who moves into our neighborhood as a small child begins with genocide. And after pages of life-giving miracles and teaching, we arrive at a scene of tragic injustice where Christ is executed as a common criminal. As Jesus hangs on the cross, he desperately cries out to God for an answer. The weight of his question seems eerily similar to what the parents of 20 school children are probably asking this morning, that thousands of school teachers like myself might be pondering, and parents across the country are considering as they shed tears over the heartbreaking news coverage. Nailed to a cross, Jesus asks his own father, "Dad, why have you abandoned me?" or "why have you left me here?"
God seems not to answer -- at least for several days.
The families of Newtown are "left here" to live their lives and move through the grief and bewilderment of unspeakable tragedy. There will never be a sufficient answer. As I listened to the sobbing of the devastated family members during the prayer vigil last night, I couldn't help but think of Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankel's words, "love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire." I believe we serve a compassionate God in Jesus who has experienced the grief we know. The only answer to tragedy in God's Story is found in the person of Jesus -- that no matter what happens, God is with us.
He has moved into our neighborhood. He hears our cries and we are not alone in our grief.
It is my hope that we follow in Jesus' footsteps and offer God's presence to each other in the coming days. You see, it is in these very moments, when God seems not to answer, that somehow, in some way, a new life is in the works for those who are left to deal with these tragedies.
The only answer is to love.
Our prayers are with you, Newtown.
M. Litton (December 19 2012)