Sunday, December 16, 2012

Don't Let The Grinch Steal Christmas

The first grade teacher at our parish school invited me to read "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" to the kids this past Monday.  It is an amazingly illuminating experience when viewed in light of the events of the past week.

The teacher and I've known each other for years since our kids attended school there.  Her son and my son played soccer together for several years.  And I spent a half decade as the speech team coach at the school. 

So, naturally, she knew I would have no problem with a request to read a story to the kids as the parish's new deacon.

As I arrived, the classroom was a buzz with energy, kids with bright, happy faces -- so full of wonder, so full of innocence, so full of questions.  And so eager for Christmas.

As you can imagine, my first thought on Friday when I heard the horrific news of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, was of those young faces; kids who are the exact ages as those who perished at Sandy Hook Elementary. 

In that moment of despair, I asked, "Why?  Why children?"  And shed a few tears.

I cannot answer the question.  No one can or ever will.

Teacher Victoria Soto who sacrificed herself for her students 
I can answer the question about where was God in all of this. 

God was in the actions of the heroic teachers who shielded students from the gunman's bullets. 

 First-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig and Music teacher
Maryrose Kristopik (inset)  

God was in the cubby holes and closets inspiring teachers to keep the children calm and quiet, telling kids how much they love them in the event those were the last words they'd hear.

God was present in the first responders who secured an eerily quiet building and led the surviving children out into the loving arms of relieved parents. 
Victim Emilie Alice Parker

Emilie's dad Robbie Parker

God was present in the ministers who met with families to share the most horrible news imaginable and provided some comfort. 

Jesus Christ is weeping with those families as they mourn the loss of their daughters and sons, mothers, sisters and brothers.
And maybe even God helped a troubled young man who teachers said lacked the capacity to feel both physical and emotional pain a moment of feeling of regret and remorse.

"Evil visited Sandy Hook Elementary School," words from a teary eyed Connecticut Governor. 

But evil did not have the last word. 

A nation is united in sadness, prayer and a desire to not let these deaths be in vain.

As we gather this Christmas with our families and friends, let us pray for families who will have empty seats at holiday tables this year and empty hearts.  Let's us be thankful for all the brave educators who saved lives and kept children out of harms way.  Let's be thankful for all of the people who showed love to these kids on that fateful day.

Let us rejoice in Christ's victory over evil and death. 

And through our love tell the Grinch he cannot steal Christmas from this people this year.   Not now.  Not ever.

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