What Will We Do About Sandy Hook Elementary?

Posted: December 16, 2012 by Matt Horan in Uncategorized
By Matt Horan
You will hear plenty of explanations for why a man killed 27 teachers, staff and students, all 6 or 7 years old, at Sandy Hook Elementary School this past Friday.  It is human nature to need a reason, which is often why, in situations like this where there is no reason beyond a severe and unchecked mental illness, people nebulously, mistakenly, cite “God’s plan,” or assume “everything happens for a reason.”
Let me say first that this was not God’s plan, and everything does not happen for a reason.  Mike Huckabee said today that it happened because we’ve kicked God out of our schools.  That’s also not true.  God did not find out about Sandy Hook from afar on CNN.
God’s grace is prevenient, constantly reaching out to us and inviting us to walk beside Him through this life long before we ever decide to.  He is inviting us to be like Jesus Christ, stepping into the lives of others to offer them acceptance, compassion, mercy, love… unconditional presence.  God is love, and love by definition cannot be forced, coerced, or required.  Love is a choice God is continually inviting us to make.  This invitation is revealed to us through the Holy Scriptures, through the love God showed us in sending Jesus Christ to live and die for us, and through the testimony of other witnesses to the difference following Jesus Christ has made in their lives.
In the coming days there will be outpourings of love, and there should be.  The grief felt by the parents of the defenseless children that were murdered is paralyzing and unimaginable.  The horror of the surviving children that watched their friends die right beside them will stay with them forever.  We will not be able to help ourselves but love them and wish we could do more to help.  The children taken that day will be adopted by us all as one by one they are identified, and the media receives permission to show them to us smiling in school pictures, t-ball uniforms, and Halloween costumes.  We all will love them so much, and we will grieve for them too.
Eventually, not as long from now as it should be, our love will turn to anger.  Blame will be assigned.  The NRA will receive some.  Violent video games and movies will receive some.  Our lack of a means to care for our mentally ill neighbors will receive some.  Maybe each should share some of the blame, and maybe not.
How this happened and how it could be prevented will dominate next few weeks and months and frankly, even more than the Columbine shootings, the Batman movie shootings, or the Sikh temple shootings; this one–with it’s victims so young–will probably yield some changes.  Maybe some of the changes will work, and maybe some not.
I don’t feel led today to lobby for one over another.  What I will say is that we need to start caring about the people who are outside the church and not growing as followers of Jesus Christ. The perpetrators at Columbine, Batman, the Sikh temple, and Sandy Hook shared many things in common, but they also shared this–that they were not living in the embrace of the church of Jesus Christ.  Would that have made a difference?   Some might argue against me, and that’s okay, but I believe that it would.
What cannot be okay to us anymore is that there are people in this world who are not a part of the community full of disciples who share their hearts, souls, and lives together.  I am convinced that when surrounded by people who will love and care for and pray for and pray with people who don’t know how to deal with their brokenness, they won’t go or and do what that young man did in Connecticut on Friday.
Friends, Christmas is coming.  It is the time more than any other all year that our culture still flocks to the church.  If there was ever a time to make sure that the whole world is welcome in the arms of God, the time is now.  Make invitations to give out to your church.  Walk through your neighborhoods and workplaces and give them out.  Include them in your Christmas cards.  Invite on Facebook, Twitter, and by email.  Keep them in your car for the drive-thru, and give them out to the homeless asking for help on the corners of our city streets.
Will this ever happen again?  There have been over 30 events like this since Columbine.  I’d love to say that it won’t, but if it does occur that someone escapes the love offered them in Christ and it happens again, let it not be said that they were not relentlessly invited.  Please don’t show up to your Christmas services this year without inviting all of your friends, coworkers, acquaintances  and even some complete strangers, to come with you and have every opportunity to live, no alone, but as a part of the global family God intends for them.

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