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Reflections on the Newtown, CT Shooting

posted Dec 14, 2012, 8:51 PM by First Presbyterian   [ updated Dec 15, 2012, 6:33 AM ]

Matthew 2:13-18: Now after [the Magi] had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” …When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”


            It’s impossible for me to imagine the grief of those who have lost loved ones today in the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  I am not a parent.  And though I have lost friends and family members, I’ve never had to sit through the news that my son or my daughter is dead.  Yet even so, I grieve.  I mourn the deaths of the adults killed this morning, and my heart cries in pain at the deaths of the twenty children who were so senselessly murdered today.


          No words, no sympathies, no embraces can undo the pain caused to that community.  More than two dozen of its members will never walk Newtown’s streets again.  And the lives of the children who survived the rampage have been forever altered.  Today they learned not about numbers, or sentence diagrams, or how to say “hello” in Spanish – today they learned about evil.  And that too tears at my soul.  As they were evacuated from the school they were reportedly told to keep their eyes closed as adults tried desperately to protect them from seeing the carnage that filled the building.  They left their classrooms in lines, hands on the shoulders of the child in front of them; not on their way to recess, but fleeing a sight so terrible that even seasoned first-responders were distraught at what they encountered.


          I am angry at the shooter for his heinous crime.  I am angry that he would so viciously prey upon vulnerable children.  I am angry at those of his acquaintances and family members who failed to confront him or hold him accountable for the behaviors that I am sure he exhibited that were warning signs of something terrible to come.  I am angry at the injustice that twenty families will have to come to grips with the fact that an innocent and adored loved one was stolen from them.


          This tragedy is senseless in every way.  It should not have happened.  It should not have happened.  It leaves me, like so many others, at a loss.


          I am struck that Jesus, the one who was called Emmanuel – “God with us” – came to earth as a child as vulnerable as the children in Newtown were today.  And that because of the actions of a mad king other children his own age, other innocent, blameless children, were murdered around him.  He too felt the terror of that brutality.  He heard the screams and saw the blood and had his innocence stolen away from him.  Because of the order that King Herod gave, wailing and lamentations were heard throughout Bethlehem; mothers and fathers weeping for their children; mothers and fathers refusing to be consoled because their children are no more. 


I believe that Jesus – God with us – is with the parents in Newtown now.  And I believe he was with those in Sandy Hook Elementary School this morning, and that he was with the children especially, as he was 2,000 years ago.  I believe he was among those who huddled in closets while shots rang out in the halls.  I believe he was among those who ran from the bullets.  I believe he lay among the slain in the blood and gore.


          And even in this horror, I believe God is with us: mourning with us, weeping with us, grieving with us.  In this horror, Emmanuel, we cry out for you to stay by our side.  In this horror, Anointed One of God, Messiah, Christ, we sob on your shoulder and beg you to hold us close a little while longer.  Amen.

-Rev. Michael S. Plank

December 14th, 2012