Saturday, December 15, 2012

Comfort on the Day after Shootings at an Elementary School

In the aftermath of a tragedy, like yesterday's shooting at the elementary school, it's hard to know what to say.  Many will ask how God could allow such a thing, and I would remind us that the God I worship doesn't want to see 20 children shot.  The God I worship doesn't want to see anyone shot.

The larger question might be how any of us allow such a thing, and conversations could spiral off into issues of gun control or mental health issues.  But here, on my theology blog, it seems more appropriate to remind us all of God's promise that death will not have the final word and that evil will be overcome.  Even on days when we can't believe the Good News, God assures us that the redemption of the world is underway.

I found it fascinating that I began the day writing this post about Isaiah 61.  At the end of the day, it still seemed an appropriate Bible passage for a day of such bad news.  So my husband and I lit the candles of the Advent wreath and read the passage out loud and prayed that God would bring beauty out of the ruins, new life out of the devastation.

This morning, I found that my post on apocalypse and our response had posted at Her Circle.  Of course, as I wrote it earlier this month, I had no idea that such a tragedy would occur the day before my post would appear. 

Here's a quote from that piece:  "The Protestant reformer Martin Luther says that the proper response to knowing that the world would end the next day is to plant a tree (referenced in N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church p. 209). That advice is as good today as it was 500 years ago. The theologian N. T. Wright would tell us when we need encouragement to do great and/or beautiful things, to remember that it all becomes part of the ultimate redemption of the world."

And here's how I end the piece: 

"In the finale of season 1 of The Walking Dead, a CDC scientist reminds the group that they will lose everything if they go back into the zombie-occupied world. But really, isn’t that what we all face? We know that everything we love will be lost sooner or later, whether that be to something as global as the Holocene Extinction or as mundane as the death that happens to us all or something mystical, like a Mayan curse.

The task we all face is to build a meaningful life in the face of this knowledge of certain doom. We may follow the path of theologians, social reformers, and/or artists—or perhaps we’ll chart a new way unique to us. But attend to the task we must. And in the process, we’ll do the important work of transforming the world from one of apocalypse and doom to one of creativity and new life."

Here's what my pastor (Pastor Keith Spencer at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pembroke Pines, FL) posted on Facebook yesterday afternoon; I found it one of the most moving things posted in the immediate aftermath:
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff —
they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

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