“The Christmas Spirit,” by Ann Weems

The Christmas spirit
is that hope
which tenaciously clings
to the hearts of the faithful
and announces
in the face
of any Herod the world can produce
and all the inn doors slammed in our faces
and all the dark nights of our souls
that with God
all things still are possible,
that even now
unto us
a Child is born!

Weems_coverI posted this poem to my Facebook status last year after the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. As my 2013 calendar rolled around to the 14th of each month, I took time out to remind myself (and sometimes others) that Sandy Hook was not a distant news story. “It’s only been a month.” “It’s only been 4 months.” “It’s only been 11 months.”

Forgetfulness seems to be a byproduct of our scrolling-newsfeed society. The next tragedy happens and the details broadcast about it crowd out the lingering sadness of tragedies past. But Sandy Hook resonated in my thoughts and the 14th demanded to be recognized. Maybe it’s because I enter school buildings several times every month. Maybe it’s because I often walk past preschoolers and elementary students as I head to visit taco-crunching teenagers at lunch time.

I wonder what the journey has been like for the community of Newtown. And, I especially wonder what this year’s stockings, candy canes and shopping-madness stirs in their souls. As author Philip Yancey traveled to speak to the Newtown community last December, his publishing company offered a free download of “Where is God When It Hurts?” More than 100,000 people responded and received the book.

Yancey_coverI trust that everyone reading this has their own reasons to ask “Where is God When It Hurts?” Last night I had a long Facebook chat with a former student of mine. It has only been a week since she announced her long-desired pregnancy. It has only been days since she lost her precious twin boys. Yancey’s latest book calls it, “The Question That Never Goes Away.” Do the reverberating anniversaries draw you closer to God’s presence, rather than away from his promises? I pray that, as mentioned in the poem above, you experience a “hope that tenaciously clings” to your heart! And even if your hurt is private in nature, I urge you to gather your own community of support.

1 Comment

  1. Denis Eble

    What is the “hope that tenaciously clings” to your heart? The hope that 20 precious children now rest in the bosom of God? The hope that their parents, siblings and grandparents are able to ‘cope’ with the emptiness? That the nightmares of children who watched the slaughter finally subside? That the First Responders can delete the ugly scenes of bloodied, torn children from their mind?

    I suppose another question that ought to be raised is what role God plays in this entire bloody scenario? The book referenced- Where is God When it Hurts?- may be a soothing salve for many, but surely not everyone affected by the slaughter.

    The ‘acceptance’ stage of grieving, as Kübler-Ross points out, does not always occur. As a grandparent, I would have a most difficult time reaching that point if this happened to my family.

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