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December 24, 2012

On December 14th, I wept for twenty six souls in Newtown, Connecticut. The despair I felt was a sense that we’ve lost control as a nation, abandoned universal morality for individual amorality. Have faith, hope and love, ancient words from ancient texts, devolved into hollow shells of confectionary meaninglessness? And then I remember that even those who trust in the ancient words of holy scripture find a sense of hopelessness embedded in the words of Ecclesiastes. “I saw the tears of the oppressed-and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors-and they have no comforter.”  Meaninglessness is not new. But it seems so new right now because this is the season of hope and hope is more difficult to grasp in the midst of our grief.

But why the senselessness and just where was the all-powerful God I believe in by faith and not sight? I don’t know…perhaps taking a cosmic nap? Or, the Creator of the universe watches with arms folded in a state of parental disbelief? Could it be that God is wracked in grief alongside us?

One day I’ll know with perfect clarity…but here is what I believe for now.
I live in a broken world. It’s the shallower, darker, hurting world that anticipates and longs for a better one. And for now heaven overlaps earth in moments of transcendent beauty while I await the purer, holy and radiant world that is to come. Those moments of overlapping transcendence where Jesus words, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven…” have revealed themselves in high definition images. Watching my bride walk down the aisle, seeing all three of my children for the first time at birth, watching my 99 year old grandmother take her last breath on this earth. Heaven can and does touch this dusty and sometimes dark world that is fraught with random acts of violence, in moments of clear wonder and transcendent beauty. And yet outside those moments of abiding truth and beauty, doubt lives and flourishes in the grip of evil and violence.
So…where was God?

Like Elvis, it does seem that God has left the building and we exist within the confines of a moral free-for-all. And then again maybe God was and is and always will be…at least that’s what Yahweh told Moses. “I am who I am.” He told Moses to tell the Israelites that this is my name forever, the name you will call me from generation to generation. God said I have a name, I exist, I was, I am, I will be, from generation to generation.

And so I wonder. Is this the better question? “Where was I when a disturbed, broken, hurting twenty year old kid lost all control and did the unthinkable?” Indeed, where was I?  At the office working too hard for things I don’t even need. I was at the gym getting in better shape. I was surfing the internet because I had nothing else to do. I was worshipping at church oblivious to those hurting outside my church walls. I was watching television three hours a day. I wasn’t paying attention to the broken and blind and crippled and hurting…the ones I stepped over as I went about my work each day. I still don’t know the answer to, “Where was God?” I only know where I was. God forgive me…and may the Almighty grant me the wisdom to refrain from cursing the darkness and the courage to light a candle.

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