Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Remembering the Fallen of Newtown

I wasn’t going to write about it—the Sandy Hook tragedy. It’s too tough to address and everyone’s writing about it…but I feel I must. Over the past few days, I’ve purposely kept from watching footage and viewing photos. I didn’t want to see it.

On Monday, I scanned news headlines and naturally the majority of them were filled with news of the shooting, the President’s Newtown visit and the first of twenty funerals to be held. I couldn’t look away when I saw a collage of the victim’s tiny faces. I began viewing each photo, bio and comment from the families.
Some faces of the Newtown victims (Photo from Yahoo News)
As I read and looked into each victim’s eyes, tears brimmed in my own. Then, I froze as the strands of a familiar song reached my ears. It wasn’t a song I’d expect to hear over a Christmas radio station – even though the intro now holds a soft orchestra opening, but the words were more than fitting for the slideshow I was viewing.
“If I could tell the world just one thing it would be, we’re all okay…And not to worry cause worry is wasteful and useless in times like these…I won’t be made useless…I won’t be idle in despair…I’ll gather myself around my faith…For light does the darkness most fear…”
Wow…the song is actually a Christmas version of “Hands” by singer/songwriter Jewel. [To hear Jewel's song, click here.] I hung on every word and continued the slideshow.
“Poverty stole your golden shoes / It didn't steal your laughter / And heartache came to visit me / But I knew it wasn’t ever after / We will fight not out of spite / For someone must stand up for what’s right / Cause where there's a man who has no voice / There ours shall go singing… / Cause in the end only kindness matters / In the end only kindness matters / I will get down on my knees, and I will pray / I will get down on my knees, and I will pray / I will get down on my knees and I will pray…

“My hands are small, I know / But they're not yours, they are my own / But they're not yours, they are my own / And I am never broken / We are never broken / We are God's eyes…God's hands / We are reflections of God…God's hands / We are…God's eyes / We are…reflections of God.”
Hands…the song’s not only fitting for needing hope in horrible situations and light in darkness but it reminded me that we must be responsible for what we do. We will be accountable for it…if not here on the Earth then before God’s judgment. Twenty children killed and six teachers and staff – all women.

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment including every hidden thing whether it is good or evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Noah Pozner had just celebrated his sixth birthday in November – a birthday he shared with his twin sister, who he called his “best friend.” Emilie Parker was a little blonde, blue-eyed girl, whose father said would have been one of the first to comfort her classmates had the gunman’s bullets not claimed her life. Jesse Lewis was excited for the holiday season and couldn’t wait to go to school on Friday to make gingerbread houses.
Redhead six-year-old Catherine Hubbard’s parents noted the overwhelming support of the community, police and emergency responders and stated: “We ask that you continue to pray for us and the other families who have experienced loss in this tragedy.”
Three of the adults were around my age—one in her first teaching year, another about to become engaged on Christmas and all dedicated to children. Twenty-seven-year-old Victoria Soto even hid her students and confronted the gunman to save their lives – sacrificing her own. The principal was the first to face him and the whole exchange was heard over the school intercom. The police don’t know why it was on, but it gave teachers and others life-saving moments to lock their doors and hid their children.
Another victim was School Psychologist Mary Sherlach, who’d been at the school over a decade. She was devoted to problem solving, intervention and prevention and her son-in-law said she felt helping children was doing God’s work.

Many churches across the country have set prayer vigils for the families and dedicated their services to them. One of these churches was North Point Church in Missouri and Pastor Jeremy Johnson made a valid point

“During this season of Christmas to see something so dark and evil happen a lot of people wonder where is the hope of Christmas,” said Johnson. “In the middle of chaos, in the middle of evil there is hope and that really is what Christmas is all about.”

In our lives, we are never promised bad things won’t happen. We are human and many of us are filled with anger and bitterness and want to bring others down with us. The issue is beyond taking away everyone’s guns because if someone means evil they will find a way to commit it.

It’s about the condition of our hearts and souls and the need for hope, the spark within that ignites as I’m reminded that God sent His Son into this world to save it. That’s the hope and assurance I cling to daily – that though we face atrocities on Earth, if we follow Christ, one day we shall spend eternity without suffering.

What are your thoughts on this tragedy? In your own life, how have you dealt with personal tragedy?