When I heard about the tragedy, I immediately began praying for the children and their families and loved ones, the teachers, staff, and administration, and shooter’s family. As the tragedy unfolded, I watched the news sparingly, I read shared posts on FB as they appeared, and I talked briefly with Coach about the incident, but I didn’t dwell on it. As a mother of a five year old, it was too painful for me to consider losing my child. As an educator, it was too difficult to imagine myself in their place. As a caring person, it was too sad to imagine how someone could become so twisted in 20 years of life. But I prayed.
Then, I walked into church on Sunday morning. Unbeknowst to me and my fellow worshippers, the worship team had changed the typical Third Sunday of Advent service into a Sandy Hook Prayer Service. And we walked in late (shocking to those of you who know me, I’m sure.), so something that I was doing my best to avoid was set before me for an hour of meditation.
It was a very moving, beautiful, and powerful service. We sang together, were invited to go to prayer areas to pray for a particular group while others continued to sing, and then continued the cycle until all groups were prayed for–the children and their families and loved ones, the teachers, staff, and administration, and communities who are affected by these tragedies. Coach and I participated in the prayer for the educators. What I had been avoiding slapped me in the face. I am an educator. I have been in lockdown drills. I have put myself between the door and my students. What if it had been me? I am a mother. I have a little boy, who is old enough to be in kindergarden this year. What it if had been my little man? And the tears flowed.
Following the prayer, our pastor shared a few words, words that I really wasn’t expecting, words that I needed to hear, perhaps words you need to hear. Despite the evil in the world, God still reins. Jesus is still King. And the hope that a little baby brought into the world all those years ago is just as true now as it was then. Evil will not prevail. Evil does not prevail. We’ve read the Book. We know the ending. Good wins out!
With that hope, we were invited to light prayer candles symbolizing God’s light in the world. The combination of the cross, the Advent wreath, and Advent decorations is stunning and inspirational. I’m sure that most congregations joined in prayer for this situation, called God’s comfort for those affected, and claimed Jesus’ ultimate victory in their services. The act of prayer and fellowship in time of trial proves that we are not defeated!
I’d also like to share with you Coach’s reflection from FB. It’s simple, inspired, and true:
As the father of two young boys, the tragedy in Newtown has been hard to swallow. Admittedly, I have shed a few tears as I read the stories of these beautiful children and of the teachers who gave their lives to protect as many as they could. I’ve prayed for the families of the victims, first-responders, and even for the shooter’s family. The question of “how could someone…?” still goes unanswered. However, God gave me peace yesterday as I heard our minister speak of God’s triumph and how, “Evil took it’s best shot and we STILL cannot be defeated.” It was a beautiful service dedicated to all those affected. While my heart still breaks for the parents of these children, I find solace in the minister’s words and in another of my favorite escapes…music. I’ve heard this song twice today and while it is more about a relationship gone bad, it seems to fit this tragedy. Give it a listen; you won’t regret it.