When I wrote my last post on Advent Storms, I had no idea that our nation would be rocked by the storm of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Like so many, I am grief-stricken and shocked at the senseless violence. That small children could be murdered is heart wrenching.
Yet the reality of violence is part of our broken, sinful world. In 2010 there were 1.2 million acts of violent crime in the United States, 14,000 acts of homicides. The fifth commandment is as necessary today as it was 3500 years ago.
(Yet before I become too self-righteous, I am reminded of Jesus’ words “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment. But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire(Matthew 5:21-22).)
Still the shock and outrage we experience upon hearing of the tragedy in Newtown demonstrates something else. It is a testimony to our God-created sense of justice and righteousness. We yearn for a world made whole and right. We yearn for a world where violence will not shorten the life of one single child. As the prophet Isaiah wrote 2700 years ago, “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).
This Sunday I will be preaching on Isaiah 61:1-7. A section of the text offers hope on such a dark day as today.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, . . . to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning.
God continues to promise hope to our broken world. We need a savior today more than ever. We need to pray that God brings comfort and hope to all the families affected in Newtown. Though this day is dark, the bright light of Christ will come soon. Our savior comes for every child, and yes, even for you.
Lord Jesus, wrap your strong arms around all those who are grieving the death of loved one. Pour out on them the healing oil of your Spirit and the great promise of your resurrection. May your light shine in our darkness. Amen