My wife and I were stocking up on Christmas groceries this morning, and getting ready to bake cookies. I was working over my Sunday sermon on joy in my head. This morning felt light and festive and free. And then, right there in the grocery store parking lot, I looked down at my phone and saw a text from my mom about the latest school shooting. And in a split second joy turned to despair.
How much more so for families in Connecticut today? We talk a lot about waiting in Advent. We wait for something wonderful. Someone who will bring peace and hope and joy and love. But all I can think about right now are the families waiting at a firehouse in Connecticut for news that will change their world forever.
I think sometimes people think that pastors are supposed to know what to say in times like this. And, rest assured, soon enough religious people will start telling us why this happened, and start placing blame the same way they do after terrorist acts and hurricanes.
But right now all I can say is that I don’t know why this happened, but I know it’s not what God wanted or willed for us. And that’s the one thing that tells me why Advent is so important. Because things like this just remind me that God isn’t through with us yet. God can’t be if we are still doing this to each other. Every year I pray that the values Christ taught, like peace and compassion and love for our neighbors, will come into our heart a little more at Christmas. I hope for that especially this year.
Until then my only prayer is the one lifted up in the classic Advent hymn: O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
We need you.