PASTORAL ADDRESS REGARDING THE SHOOTINGS IN CONNECTICUT
I would like to offer some brief remarks regarding the recent shootings in Connecticut. An event such as this is always tragic, always a shock, always a horror not only to those involved but to the whole nation. The fact that young children were involved in this horrific event makes it even more so, as these young people were in the flower of their youth, and perished long before their time. Our entire nation mourns with those parents and brothers and sisters and grandparents, along with husbands and wives and children of faculty members who lost their lives in this terrible event.
At such times there are a number of emotions that one goes through: anger, sorrow, grief, helplessness, and maybe for some, even anger at God, or at best, confusion. No doubt there will be some in our country who will see this as just another reason to disavow Christianity, or to doubt God’s love. They will point to this in years to come as a sure sign that your faith is misplaced, that God cannot possibly be as good as we say He is. Let me remind all of you that though God permitted this evil to occur, He is by no means the author of evil and wickedness. He takes no delight in the death even of the wicked, but would rather they turn from their evil way and live. We ought not attempt to peer into God’s hidden will, but take to heart the words of the Lord through the Prophet Isaiah:
6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Let us remember today who the real culprit is in these things: First, it is the devil who delights in bringing havoc and disorder to God’s creation. Second, it is the sinful nature of man which often removes from a person all sense of right and wrong, and produces in him a hateful and malicious character. But let us also remember who has won the victory over the devil, our sin, and death itself. Christ was born in Bethlehem for this very reason, that He might finally deliver us from this vale of tears and sorrow to an eternal home in heaven. Death itself has been transformed by Christ’s death and resurrection into the gate of everlasting life for all who believe.
Events such as this shooting are a reminder to all the faithful that life is precious, and that we need at all times to be prepared to fall asleep in faith. As much as we would like to believe that the world is safe, and that we needn’t worry about death coming to our door as it did in Connecticut, the reality is, it is not. And so we should at all times cling in faith to our Savior, bring our children to baptism so that they might be protected in both body and soul from eternal death, and commune at the Lord’s altar, where Christ’s victory over death is sealed in us. Events like this ought to make us hear the Word of God more eagerly, as we await his Coming when He will set all things right.
For now, we mourn with those who have lost parents, or spouses, or children in this attack. Scripture says that when one member of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. We know for certain that at least one of those killed in the shooting was a member of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, CT, whose family had recently joined and had begun attending Sunday School. Today we rejoice in the midst of sorrow that God has received her into his loving arms. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Beloved, do not let your hearts be troubled, or your faith shaken by this or by any tragedy. Evil will be dealt a final blow at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and justice will be done. Let us commend ourselves always into God’s gracious hands, knowing that through Him who loves us, “we are more than conquerors.” Christ’s peace be with you.