Pastor Shonnie’s reflections on Sandy Hook.
There is an overwhelming array of news, blogposts, videos, and editorials to digest on the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy, so why should I add to it? Especially since the point I’m about to make is this: limit your exposure to all this media.
I’m adding to it only to share the balm God’s given to me…right in the midst of my own personally traumatic week….hoping it might be of some pastoral comfort to you as well.
Along with the shock, repulsion and grief this event provokes in all of us, it’s also normal to feel a certain amount of survivor’s guilt. We wonder if there’s a “proper” way to share in the communal grief surrounding us. How should this impact our Christmas mood? For me last week, being broadsided by my mom’s sudden hospitalization for very serious pneumonia, I flat out had to put a box around how much I could process. How much can we take—and how should we respond—if we’re already carrying the world on our shoulders?
- Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. “ For sure, we’re to deeply empathize and share in the grief over the horrific, incomprehensible loss of these innocent children and adults. Jesus weeps with those who weep, and we’re to carry on his ministry as the Body of Christ. Yet, we should check ourselves if we find ourselves gawking. (Gawking is akin to stalking). There’s a flood of media available to us, but once we’re informed, going back for more and more, or re-exposing ourselves to the same information, is a sign we’ve unwittingly crossed over the line into morbid fascination (an excessive interest in death or unpleasant events). This is unhealthy, un-Jesus-like, and it’s not going to do us, or others, any good.
- Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This is not Pollyannaish, nor is it disrespectful. The apostle Paul, who exhorts us here, personally experienced more trauma to mentally and emotionally replay than we ever will. Yet he carefully chose what to THINK ABOUT. THINK ABOUT THESE (true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy) THINGS. The amount of pain, suffering, and evil in this world will quickly overwhelm your mental and emotional tank if you choose to gawk.
- 1 Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” The way to honor the dead, “repay evil,” and honor Jesus in this season, is to be sympathetic, compassionate and loving toward the people right around you. Actively “be a blessing” to the people in your family, at work, and in your neighborhood. Manage your thinking well (where you’re “spending” your mental and emotional attention), and you will represent Jesus well. You’ll be a comforting light of hope, in a world that desperately needs Jesus to show up this Christmas!
Our campus pastor, Shonnie Scott, is just getting into blogging. Shonnie is a wife and mother, who has trustingly followed Jesus’ into countless wild and crazy adventures—in ministry and life! She never looks back…