Friday, December 14, 2012
A Special Service of Response This Sunday
I was on the phone with good friends inside and outside our church, trying to figure out what we should do. Beth and Sammy and I agreed that we couldn't just have a normal day at PCC. We have to respond.
I use that word deliberately. I'm not entirely sure I have answers. How do we speak to the enormity of a tragedy like this and have the audacity to suggest that we have some kind of easy, satisfying resolution?
As I rode in my car and heard the reporters and imagined the scene as some of the children spoke into the microphones, I couldn't hold back the tears. "These are our children!" I thought.
Tonight, those parents grieve like most of us have never known. Their kids went to school this morning with their bologna and cheese sandwiches and their Transformers lunchboxes. They had appointments to see Santa this weekend. Those Moms and Dads were doing the finishing touches of the shopping and making final arrangements on the travel plans.
Instead...tomorrow...they'll just make the final arrangements.
Twenty Seven Sets of Final Arrangements.
And because of today - and days like today that we remember all too well because they were all too recent - the whole world has questions. Spiritual questions. And No churchy, cheesy, canned, memorized, Sunday School answer will do. We have to do better than that. Maybe all we can do is cry out to God. Maybe that's all we will do. I don't know. But you can be sure we won't belittle the pain by dumbing down the response.
I was on the phone with my good friend Jeff Boggess from Atlee Community Church when the President came on. We hung up so we could listen and I called Jeff back when it was over, surprised that the speech was so short. But then I said, "You know, when you think about it, this is really not the President's job. This is the church's job. This is a spiritual question, because at issue right now is: Where is God? People wonder in a moment like this how such a tragedy could happen, and it isn't the President's job to answer...it's ours."
I hope we're up to the task.
Tonight, I hope you will pour your heart in prayer out for those families who lost someone today. And I hope you will invite someone to church on Sunday. Folks want to know where God is. Somehow, we're going to help them find hope and peace. Somehow, we're going to at least give them a reason to believe that God is still God, even when we can't see or understand. We'll give folks permission to be real and authentic and genuine, a chance to pray, and, as always, they'll be glad they came to church.
See you Sunday, and thanks for praying.