By Scott Taylor
This article was written in January of 2013 and originally published at Calvary United Methodist Church, Annapolis, MD.
I struggle to write this devotional. I struggle because it was a month ago that the shootings took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. I struggle because so much has been said and so many emotions have come and gone with far too little time to rest and make an attempt at processing what has happened and how I feel about it. Some think that now is the time for action and change. Maybe they are right. For me, I can only ask God to increase my faith.
Over the course of the Holiday season, Lauren and I put our TV in storage to make room for a small table-top Christmas tree where we could hang ornaments and Christmas cards – little reminders of our family and friends and memories of home. To some, this may seem like a huge sacrifice, but we only get three channels on the TV, and that’s if the weather’s right. However, it did mean that I missed out on a great deal of the news media regarding the events in CT. So, it was not until December 26, at my in-laws house in South Carolina that I actually saw any TV media relating to the events at Sandy Hook. And now, I can’t forget what I saw on the news. At the bottom of the television screen was the number 26. At first I took it to be the date (December 260. I later realized it represented the number of people killed that day.
It is an alarming number. One way to put it into context is to say that the number of people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary is twice the number of gun-related homicides in the United Kingdom last year. That’s one way to think about that number. I can’t help but imagine what it’s like to live in a country where people don’t shoot each other. I wonder if I would feel freer in such a place.
In any case, I don’t really want to talk about politics or guns or school shootings anymore. What struck me about that number at the bottom of the screen was that it wasn’t accurate. As I listened to the news media, I heard the anchor remark, “...the nation gathers in this season of peace to grieve the 26 lives lost just weeks earlier in Newtown.” As I said, I was struck at the inaccuracy. There were, in fact, 28 lives lost that day: 28 including students, teachers, and other school employees, and a son who shot his mother and later took his own life.
I think it is healthy to grieve, but we must also strive for something – anything – better than this. More than that, we Christians must follow the example that Christ set on the cross and recognize that there were 28 lives lost a month ago in Newtown, not 26. There were 28 souls whose lives were ended for reasons too complex to understand in a single moment. I say we must follow the example of Christ of the cross and I mean it. Christ hung on the cross surrounded by thieves. I believe Christ had love for both of the thieves hanging next to him – including the one who could not see beyond himself. I am quite certain that Christ has love for all of us, thieves that we are, even when we “know not what we do.” My faith demands that Christ also loves the mother and her lost son who acted out this terrible plot.
As Americans, we are all looking to the government for a response – some kind of answer that will satisfy us until the next shooting more terrible than this occurs. As Christians, I hope we can take a moment to ask God to increase our faith from the 26 to 28.