Today’s post is written by Geoff Twigg, Adjunct Professor at North Park University in Chicago. Geoff is a pastor, singer/songwriter, worship leader and ministry consultant, and serves the ECC as a member of the denomination’s Commission on Worship.
Someone posted on the Better Together Facebook group: “It’s Friday morning, December 14th, and the world just changed. Do I alter my worship plans for Sunday morning, or carry on singing ‘Mary’s Boy Child,’ ‘Joy to the World,’ and ‘What Child is This’?”. It seems that someone got into a school in Connecticut this morning, and though the news is not yet clear we have heard that 27 people are dead including 18 children. The question posted to our Facebook community is a very good one.
Anything we say can sounds trite at a time like this. Emotions are raw, and the shock we experience, together with the current media style of repetitious, slowly evolving news cycles, means that we are fatigued by the terrible things we hear.
The Church exists, in part at least, to help in situations like this. The world is asking the “why” questions now, today, and perhaps we should be ready to answer them with God’s truth. That’s a lesson we can learn and grow from – to be ready with an explanation of the hope we hold dear. Even now, it’s worth trying to put our thoughts into prayer and take them to the Throne of Grace… Lord, why does this happen? How can we bring comfort to those bereaved and devastated? What, Lord, do you want us to bring to the society in which we live?
In our own hearts, we should be sure that the God who was worthy of praise and adoration yesterday is the same Lord today, still worthy, still expressing grace, mercy and comfort. We’re still God’s people, and the hands and feet of Christ on the earth.
If anyone can stand with those who mourn, it’s the followers of Christ. If there’s anyone who sees the big picture of God’s love for the world, of death and resurrection in Christ, of the sheer hopelessness of a world that lives in the shadow of sin and needs comfort – it’s us. We can stand among our friends and neighbors in the midst of suffering, and gently hold their hands as we grieve together.
Years ago now, our third child died as an infant, just before Christmas. The holidays were forever changed, of course, as we will always remember and be grateful for Andrew’s short life.
Just a few weeks later I was back leading worship at a large event – as a freelance musician I didn’t get paid unless I worked – and I felt like a hypocrite, so I went to the Leadership Counseling that was offered.
The counselors – a couple who had suffered much, and shone profoundly with the light of Christ – were very helpful. They prayed with me, and their kind and wise words brought much peace. Among the things I remember was a challenge; this is a time, they said, to mourn, but also to praise God for the hope you have in the resurrection.
It is not hypocrisy to praise God at a time like this, but it is a sensitive time to draw close to the God of all comfort and speak comfort to our neighbors on God’s behalf.