Dear Church family,
As we struggle with the reality of the school shooting this week we are grateful for our faith’s rich history of lament. “How long, O Lord?” cry the psalms and we join their voices. Since I heard the news I have been thinking about how our Lord knew something about the deaths of children. When his family flees Israel they are running from Herod’s terrible massacre of boys under 2 years old. That experience was so awful it brought up for the people every awful time they’d known of. They quoted another terrible time saying,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled,
because they are no more.”
(quoted from Jeremiah in Matthew 2)
As I have run this scripture through my mind and heart these last few days I am reminded of the difference between “console” and “condole.” Many of you will remember we discussed this during our series on Job. Condoling is what Job’s friends do when they join him in the ash heap. Condoling is being brave enough to enter terrible grief with someone. Consoling is comforting someone. It can be a beautiful thing but, at its heart, it means to change someone’s mind. Its goal is to lift their spirits or change their heart.
I confess that I immediately jumped from grief to my own attempts at changing people’s hearts. We all have strong feelings about gun violence and we do not always agree. There are vast disagreements even on my own side of the family about how we should respond to these terrible events. As I have considered this scripture, I have been convicted. Let’s leave the attempt to change hearts to another day. That is the easy part for us: arguing our position and defending our territory. Let’s do the harder thing and truly take in the tragedy. Let’s weep along with Rachel for her children are gone.
Since the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012 there have been approximately 290 weeks of school and, in those weeks there have been 239 school shootings in our nation. That averages to a shooting almost every week. In these incidents, 438 people have been shot and 138 have been killed. That averages to approximately 1 child or teacher being killed every 2 weeks school is in session. For just a moment, do not console yourself out of this reality. Do not make it a partisan issue with sides to defend. For just a moment, refuse to be consoled and fully join the grief. Weep for our children because they are no more.
May the peace of Christ be in our hearts today, Tasha