Last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut forced many to take pause during the buildup to the Christmas season. It was like a sucker punch to the gut, leaving you bent over in pain. Like the rest of the world, I struggled to catch my breath, gasping for a reason, desperately searching for the air of explanation as to why a madman would walk into a school after having killed members of his family, and kill an administrator, teachers and 20 young children.
There was no answer that would suffice. I listened to President Obama that afternoon with tears welling in my eyes then running down my cheeks. There was no need for partisanship in that moment. Like the President, my heart ached for those families impacted. Like the President, I wanted to hug my children in that moment. I questioned myself for being thankful that my children were safe while others collapsed into the arms of friends and family in unspeakable agony at the news that their child would not be opening presents beneath the Christmas tree this year.
And still there are no answers that fill the void. I received a poem this week. I can't verify the author. While I believe they deserve credit for their words, I find it more important to share the words as we ready this week to share this special day with those closest to us.
T'was 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there
they were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day
"where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse
"this is heaven." declared a small boy
"we're spending Christmas at God's house"
when what to their wondering eyes did appear
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same
then He opened His arms and He called them by name
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad"
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
then He and the children stood up without a sound
"come now my children, let me show you around"
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can
and I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT"
I needed to share this as a reminder of the true reason for the season.
And I believe it also offers an explanation.
We've removed God from our culture. We, as a society, have continued to de-value human life. While we can place blame on violent video games, images on television and the big screen, suggestive and disturbing music lyrics -- all of which I believe can be contributing factors -- I have to point to the lack of a moral fabric in our society, which began when Jesus was removed as the backbone of our country's compass.
My daughter asked my wife, "I understand that it's horrible what happened in Connecticut but what about the millions of babies that we have killed every year because of abortion? Doesn't anyone care about them?"
Had I been asked my answer would have been, "Jesus does. God does. They care about every one of those babies and every life lost at Connecticut. They care about all of us and all we do. But, unfortunately, the Word of God is being stripped from the American conscience so we don't have to feel bad when we act as we do. No guilt. And His absence in our day-to-day lives becomes painfully obvious when we turn to Him on days like this seeking answers."
As we ready to celebrate Christmas this year, minus many special smiles in Connecticut this year, let us be reminded that God and his Son should be on our hearts and minds every day, not just Christmas, Easter and in times of crisis. They are there for us to turn to at all times, good as well as bad.
Merry Christmas to all as we celebrate together the birth of the real King.