“The Christmas Spirit,” by Ann Weems
The Christmas spirit
is that hope
which tenaciously clings
to the hearts of the faithful
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
a Child is born!
I 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.
I 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.