In the wake of the tragedy that took place last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut there is a consistent theme that has been repeated over and over again. People in their pain and confusion continue to ask the question,"why did this happen?" A similar sentiment expressed is "how could this happen in such a small, quiet town like this?" "We did not expect that something like this could happen in our town." The reality is that there is no town or city or country in the world that is immune from such a tragedy. Although we cannot not know what the shooter's motivation was or the extent of his possible mental illness, spiritually the answer to the question "why?" can be summed up in three letters, SIN. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) all of humanity and creation was plunged into darkness as the world became tainted with sin. Human beings from that point forward chose to engage in behavior that was self centered and ignorant toward the Creator who made all things. Somewhere along the way talking about sin became "politically incorrect" and slowly some churches began to stop preaching about sin lest they be seen as judgmental and out of touch with the times. However, the reality is that all of us are sinners and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) The poor choice made in the garden has affected us all, "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned--for before the law was given, sin was in the world... (Romans 5:12-13a) The free will that God has granted us a human beings can be used for good or evil and He does not delight when we choose to use our free will for evil purposes. God weeps with the suffering and sorrow of the parents and community of Newtown. Mental illness, sickness, death and all things that are "wrong" within our world are all a part of the brokenness of a world tainted by sin. But this is not the end of the story. In fact this is why we celebrate Christmas. It is in the birth of Christ and ultimately His death and resurrection that sin and death have been conquered. "For if, by the trespass of one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ... For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:17,19) God understands what it is to lose a child. What is more remarkable is God voluntarily gave up His Son who was sinless to became the sacrifice for sinful humanity so we could be forgiven and have restoration of the broken relationship that existed between us and God. (Romans 8:3-4) I was saddened to hear that some of the folks in Newtown had taken down their Christmas decorations because according to the news media they reportedly were no longer in a "festive mood." While their pain and grief is very real and raw at this point in time, I pray that they will be able to heal and come to recognize that while 20 children and 7 adults left this world, one child came into the world to save it. And one day soon there will be a second coming. In that day, Jesus will return as King of kings and Lord of lords. He has promised that what is now broken in this world will be made whole. (Revelation 21:1-5) Jesus is the hope for this world. He Himself told His disciples, "In this world you will have trouble. (murders, suicide, mental illness, sickness, etc. italics mine) But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) So while we grieve with Newtown, Connecticut, let us not forget the one child we celebrate who as the risen Savior and Lord is making all things new.
Peace in Christ,