The shootings and deaths of so many last week at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut has shaken all of us to the core. I’ll offer a few brief words here (not much can be said that is necessarily “helpful”) for encouragement. My own take on this tragedy is because most of the victims were so young, it has struck us more deeply. These children were only babies a few years earlier and have not had much chance to live their lives. What’s wrong with the world? The story is told of Gilbert Keith (aka G.K.) Chesterton (b.1874-1936), a british journalist, who responded to a question put out in the local paper. The question the editors wanted readers to respond to was this, “What’s wrong with the world?” Chesterton answered, “Dear sirs, in answer to your question, “What’s wrong with the world” – I am, sincerely, G.K. Chesterton. Pithy and accurate.
What’s wrong with the world? We are. No, we didn’t pull the trigger at Sandy Hook, but I think when we look at the mess in this world, I would argue that deep inside we know the problem is, well, deep inside all of us. Adam Lanza, apparently had incredible problems, but the line of evil that he crossed that day runs in each of our hearts. I suppose very few of us would actually, thank God, cross that line and commit actual murder, but the unease we are all feeling over this, I believe in part, is a reflection that we know this world is terribly broken. It’s well known that over one hundred years ago, as we moved from the 19th to the 20th century, the new century was to be a time of great progress, of peace on earth, good-will to men. Technology and new inventions were to usher in unprecedented advances in “civilization”. Well, as we know now, the 20th century was perhaps the bloodiest century known to man. We became experts at killing and brutality, often doing it from afar with “smart” bombs, when machetes wouldn’t do. Now . . . I don’t’ know the “answer”, but as risk of being cliche and understood as arrogant and trite, I do know THE ANSWER. Michael Card, one of my favorite artists has a song titled, “Could it be”. In it, he includes a series of questions.
The lyrics are as follows: “In the ebb and flow of living as we wander through the years, We’re told to listen to a voice We can’t hear with our ears. They say to live by something That you can’t see with your eyes Is there really any purpose to this foolish exercise? Could it be you make your presence known so often by your absence? Could it be that questions tell us more than answers ever do?” Could it be that you would really rather die than live without us? Could it be the only answer that means anything is You?” In our words and in our silence, In your pride and in our shame, To the genius and the scholar, To the foolish and insane, To the ones who care to seek You, To the ones who never will, You are the only answer even still. It’s a question you can’t answer, An answer you cannot express, That the gentle Man of Sorrow, Is the source of happiness, You’ll never solve the mystery, Of this magnetic man, For you must believe to understand.”
Friends, family and all who weep for the children, the teachers, and even the Adam Lanza’s of this world, Jesus, the Man of Sorrows alone knows our pain. Some day, He will make it all right. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God, give us the grace to address the evil in our own hearts, and, as a response to the Gospel, not engage in a personal moral reformation, but to turn to You, the only one who can give new hearts. Amen.