[Noozhawk’s note: Pastor Denny Wayman emailed this message Saturday to his congregation at Free Methodist Church in Santa Barbara, and is sharing it with Noozhawk readers.]
I woke early with the sorrow of Newtown. The grief is overwhelming. The loss is beyond any words or consolation.
I know that you have already joined the thousands who filled the churches of Newtown to pray. We naturally turn to God in such moments, not only in seeking comfort but also with our outrage that such innocent lives would be allowed to be taken. What kind of world do we live in? When will all this killing end? How long will our Lord wait until making all things new — and giving us “right minds” where we truly do have a “Newtown” with a new Jerusalem and true peace on earth? This juxtaposition of evil with the message of Christmas is not lost on any of us.
I’ve always been bothered by the Christmas story told in Matthew in which Herod’s angry insanity caused him to order the death of the baby boys in Bethlehem so he could end the life of the young rival king the Wise Men came to worship. The grief of those parents undoubtedly mirrored the ones of today. The juxtaposition of evil with God’s gift of His own Son is not lost on any of us, as well.
Evil in all its various forms is most obvious when it is the innocent who suffer and often die. That is why the birth and death of the innocent child of Bethlehem speaks deeper than the words any of us can say. That is why comfort is found only in God. God is with us. That is why the churches of Newtown are filled.
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain;
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
When Handel wrote the music to communicate God’s word, his servants described him: “He was praying ... he was weeping ... he was staring into eternity.”
That is what we are all doing.
— The Rev. Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive, on the Mesa in Santa Barbara.