CTShooting20 Children and 6 Adults were tragically killed today when a 24 year old gunman entered the  Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.. Social media, radio, and TV have been filled with conversation, calls to pray and questions of how and why.  As a parent and a life long youth worker my heart is grieved by this news.  I too have spent some time in prayer for the families of all the victims today.

Among the questions today the biggest one, even voiced to me by my son on the phone, “Why would someone ever do that?”  My answer is simple but far from easy, my answer is “Hopelessness.”  It is the message of the prince of this dark fallen world, it is a Lie from the very core of evil it self.  Satan has been preaching it for years.  It comes in various forms: “Your sin is too big for God to forgive”, “with out them in your life, your life is worthless”, “You are such a failure that you will never amount to anything but trouble”, “you have become a burden on your family and the world” , “Jesus is a myth”.

I know a great deal about these lies, for that have been whispered in my ears by the father of lies for many years.  But THE TRUTH, Jesus the Messiah, has assured me and demonstrated in his own life what to do when the lies begin. Stop arguing, and fighting the battle – call in for reinforcements.  Call in the Sovereign Creator of all that is, the immovable Rock and Fortress of our lives.  As Christ did when tempted by those same lies, he answered not with worldly wisdom or power, but with the swift and life giving Word of God.

Today in a world darkened by sin, held captive by greed and pride, and wounded by those who would deny Christ, or limit his perfect justice and unconditional love. We the Church, the very bride of Christ need to stop pointing our weapons at each other and “Live a Life that Demands an Expatiation.”  We need to be known by our Love, by our Hope, by our grief, and by our walk.

14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14 (NIV)  

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)  

We have an opportunity in the coming days and for the rest of our lives to be beacons of Hope, in the midst of tragedy, to rejoice in the midst of suffering, to have peace in the midst of confusion.   Don’t shrink back from your calling because you don’t know what to say to people. YOU DON’T HAVE TO KNOW, you just have to be open to let the Holy Spirit of the Living Christ use  you as his instrument. Don’t get me wrong, ours is not a life of leisure, just resting on the Spirit to work for us. We are called to be people of the Word.  So that when the day of evil comes we can stand.  We need not only to read the world we need to keep the word.  We need to get it from our eyes to our heart.  My friend Keith Ferrin talks about internalizing the word of God, so it become a part of who you are.

We as a church have grown lazy in our study of Scripture, too many of us have written it off as: “something they are done with”, or “they don’t know enough to study the word”, or “they are too busy serving that they have no time for the Word”, or “the sermon on Sunday is their Bible study”, or “my daily 2 minute email devotion feeds me what I need.”  My friends in Christ these are ALL LIES.

We need to wake up and hunger and thirst for the Word of Life.  Christ came, by his own words, “that we might have life, and have it to the full.”

Today we grieve with a nation, for the mother who has no child to hold tonight, for the child who cannot make the nightmare go away, for the father who has lost a wife, and we should grieve.  But we should grieve for any who died today without knowing the saving Love of the Manger King, who lived as a Servant King, who as a Selfless King gave his life for us on the cross, and rose as a Victorious King.

I recently blogged about the journey I am on from 25 years of Congregation Ministry to a ministry among the people as an Employee of Office Depot.  I shared a series of verses that the Lord shared with me.  I invite you to reflect on those verses I listed in Steady On.

I also recently on that same journey wrote When Hope is All You Have.

I pray this tragedy does mark us, does change us, does grieve us, that me might live lives Marked as the Children of God, Changed into the newness of Christ, as we Grieve with Hope.

May the great O Antiphon of the church fill us with the HOPE that comes as we wait in the Holy season of Advent for the birth of Emmanuel, “God With Us.” So we can tell this darkened world about the God who came to be among us.

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times gave holy law,
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse’s stem,
From ev’ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow’r to save;
Bring them in vict’ry through the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Hymn # 31 from Lutheran Worship
Author: French Processional
Tune: Veni Emmanuel
1st Published in: 1854