Our Memorial Service to Newtown This Sunday
I almost could not get through it. Last Sunday during the first service, I was scheduled to pray. With the Newtown tragedy still very fresh, that privilege and responsibility seemed particularly heavy upon me. Then, just before I stood to pray, we sang, “Away in a Manger.” The third stanza did me in: “Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.” I know my grief over the scarring senselessness of this act was shared by everyone in that room.
Which made what happened next particularly powerful: Our children presented their Christmas musical. As always with one of Ane Weber’s productions, it was excellent, poignant, powerful, and goofy (speaking as one of the camels). And it might have crossed some minds, “Is this fitting? In the shadow of Newtown, should we consider replacing something that is so light-hearted with something more… appropriate?”
For me, the answer was, “Not a chance!” I could not think of a more appropriate way to memorialize the Newtown children than for our children to lead us in the worship of the only one who can bring hope and peace to such a situation. And to end the service with balloons pouring down from the balcony and our kids running up and down the aisles batting them about… that joyful defiance, that joy-filled affirmation of life was the fitting and perfect offering of worship at the end of such a dark week.
But we are not done, are we? We still carry pain and grief and many questions, don’t we? Questions like, “Why does God allow such evil to happen?” This Sunday, I will dare to speak to that question as we continue with our sermon series, The God Who Heals.
We will begin each service with a very touching memorial to the Newtown victims. Attention all late-comers: This will be a Sunday to be early for church… or you will miss out! Please, set your clocks 15 minutes earlier and be in your seats, expectant and ready to meet God. You’ll be grateful for it.
O come, O come, Immanuel!