Newtown’s Child, Bethlehem’s Child

In this brief blog I use the term ‘Newtown’s child’ to refer to all of the loss we suffered in Newtown, Connecticut one week ago today.

I’ve heard people say that the tragedy of Newton’s child was made all the worse because these children died so near Christmas.

I disagree.

The hope, the peace and the comfort for the families of Newtown’s child are embodied in the coming of Bethlehem’s child.

To every child whose life was ended in Newton, Bethlehem’s child says, ”Your story is not over, for because I live, you will live also.”

To every grieving parent who laid Newton’s child in a grave this week, Bethlehem’s child says, “I am the resurrection and the life, those who believe in me will never die.”

To a nation and world that grieve for Newtown’s child and are overwhelmed by the presence of evil in our midst, Bethlehem’s child says, “In this world you will have trials and tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

If ever there was a year for us to draw nearer the manger and kneel in wonder and adoration at Bethlehem’s child, it is certainly this Christmas.  Only there will sorrow be turned into hope, and grief give way to comfort and peace.

But there is more.

There is no ‘silver lining’ in this tragedy. We will look in vain to find one.  Evil offers no such thing.  Evil is evil to the very edge of its influence and presence.  This Christmas must remind us that Bethlehem’s child came not to help us find some good in the presence of evil, but to execute its utter destruction.

As we cry out, ‘when will this evil be ended?’, Bethlehem’s child cries out, ‘it is finished.’  Evil’s fate was sealed on the cross.

How can this be in the face of this demonstration of evil’s growing grip in our nation?  The defeat of evil happens through the small, daily victories of God’s people, who live and pray and minister and work in his name and with the power he promised us.

Our response to the loss of Newton’s child must be to claim the promise that is ours in Bethlehem’s child, and with that promise, to change the world where we live.  We are the hands and feet of Jesus.  We are the ambassadors of Christ, called to be salt and light wherever we go.  We have been given the authority to drive evil out of our homes, our schools, and our communities.  Will we claim it?

We are not left defenseless in this battle.  Our weapons against the enemy are forgiveness, love, generosity and truth. Against these, all evil is rendered powerless. And they are each available to us in unending abundance because of Bethlehem’s child.

Today we look back and remember the lives that were lost, six adults and twenty children who will never be forgotten.  All of us will ponder Newtown’s child in our hearts this Christmas.  But we must even more look forward to Tuesday, to the coming of Bethlehem’s child, believing that the final victory over evil and death that is the promise and product of this divine birth, will one day in some unimaginable way swallow up the grief and overwhelm the sorrow of the loss of Newtown’s child.

This one tiny birth brings to the world the truth of the real state of evil, and empowers us, even in the shadow of Newtown’s child, to proclaim with the deepest conviction, ‘O death where is your sting?  Oh grave, where is your victory?’

Oh come, let us adore him.