Dec 19 2012

Grand Rapids District: When Tragedy Strikes

Original post at http://www.grdistrictumc.org/2012/12/when-tragedy-strikes/

I really do get it.  I understand why CNN and all other major networks have focused their cameras and shared millions of words with the riveted public over the past few days about the events in the small community of Newtown, Connecticut.  Seasoned reporters, and the President of the United States, broke with their usual sturdy outward demeanor, and were unable to hold it together as they dealt with the overwhelming grief brought on by the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school.  We’ve all tried to push out of our heads the impinging images that inevitably appeared of the classroom our children or grandchildren go to everyday and the fear and pain we felt as we connected those bright places with the unspeakable acts of violence in that Newtown school. 

I understand the brokenness, the desire to do something, the multiplication of our feelings because children represent so clearly the innocence and hope of our world.  I have put some of my own energy into praying for that community.  I have been asking God to bring comfort and grace into the horror, for those families and for all of us. 

But one of the things that always happens within my soul when an event like this occurs in our nation, occupying every aspect of the news for days, is I think of other places and other events.  This experience occurred again for me early last Sunday morning when CNNs 24 hour coverage of Sandy Hook was interrupted for, at least in my viewing, the first time in two days by the reporting of some brief international news. 

As a part of that two minute or so break from Connecticut there was about a 15 second report informing us that over 1,000 people had died in the Philippians from Typhoon Bopha that struck last week.  In reading about the storm later I learned that some 830 people are still missing as well, so the death toll will inevitably rise significantly.  I wondered as that story quickly passed from the screen, how many of those victims were children?  I wondered which ones might have been in the first grade?

Now, like I said, I get it.  When events strike my family I feel them more than when something happens to someone else whom I don’t know.  That’s true for my biological family and it’s true for our national family as well.  But I would invite us, as followers of the one who came to the world in love to, as we mourn the senseless death of these 20 precious children who were killed in Newtown last Friday, also remember that we live in a global community where tragedy on a scale almost unimaginable in our culture, occurs on a regular basis.  And in that knowledge and realization may we find ways to do all we can to reach out in love to God’s children everywhere.  May we value every life as precious in God’s sight.


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