Immanuel – God With Us

I originally wrote the words below on December 17, 2012, just days after the tragedy of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.  I wrote them as a Facebook “note” in the days before my blog and today, I saw them again 2013-12-13 14.43.43 HDRas a remembrance on my timeline.

It has been 3 years since the horrors of Sandy Hook, but unfortunately, the mass shootings and tragedies have continued.  I feel like these words and the message of Advent are still quite relevant.  God is still with us; Our prayers still matter; and we can never be separated from the God who loves us so much that He sent His only Son as a Child to be the ultimate sacrifice for each of us.

If you haven’t met the Christ-child yet, I pray that you will find him this Advent season.  If you need an introduction or need to know how to find your way to Him, I’m never more than an email or phone call away.

Peace on earth….. To all people, good will.

December 17, 2012

This is the season of Advent.  The time of expectations and preparations.  In the Christian year, we take these 4 weeks to prepare not just for Christmas, but also to prepare our hearts for the coming again of Christ to this broken and hurting world.  Our Pastor said at the beginning of Advent that this was a Season of Waiting – Waiting to see what God will bring us at Christmas.

Like so many of you, my advent season was scarred on Friday with the news of yet another mass killing in our country.  This time, though, it was different.  This time, the target was innocent children.  Children who felt safe at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Children who we shield every day from hurt and violence in the world.  Children who were anxiously awaiting Christmas, who probably had wrapped presents under the tree and visions of the goodies Santa would bring them.  Children who were supposed to sing in a Christmas program at school or church, or perhaps even sing a solo or play in their first piano recital. Children just like mine.  Children just like my nieces and nephews. Children just like the ones Emily spent the summer working with in NYC. Children…..innocent children…… How could that be?  How could that happen during this season of Advent, of expectation?  

The question I have heard most in the last few days is where was God in the midst of this tragedy.  I have read postings on Facebook from those who say God wasn’t there because we took God out of schools. I even heard a politician, who I had respect for at one time, say it was ludicrous that we would expect God to be in our midst when we have forced him away so many other times.  I’m sorry, I cannot subscribe to that theory or way of thinking.  God was at Sandy Hook School on Friday morning.  God was comforting frightened children, giving teachers the peace of mind to do what they needed to do to protect those children.  God was mourning His children who were so violently taken from this world.  God was comforting families in the midst of such great loss…… feeling their pain and grief. And yes, I believe with all my heart that God was trying to reach out to the troubled soul that instigated all this violence.  God is ever present.  There is NOTHING we can do that will keep God from being in our very midst, and we are promised that there is no force in this world that can separate us from His love. In our time of greatest pain and struggle and in our time of greatest joy, God is present.  He weeps when we weep and He laughs when we laugh.  And He loves us so much that He gives us the freedom and the will to make our own decisions, good or bad.  

Each week during Advent, we light a candle at church.  The traditional meanings of those candles, Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, are the same messages our sinful and troubled world need today.  The world longed for those messages over 2000 years ago when God sent his only Son as a sacrifice for each of us.  I believe we will need those messages until Christ comes again.  So, in light of the tragedy of Friday and in the spirit of Advent, I pray that I can be hope, peace, joy and love to those I come in contact each day.  Oh, God, may I have a heart for you more than the things of this world.  Friends, will you join me?  Will you bring the message of hope, peace, joy and love to a hurting and troubled world today?  If we ALL do that, God will be ever present in each of us!

Selah

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About Tina Swaggerty Collins

Tina currently serves on staff at Ball Camp Baptist Church. A music graduate of Carson-Newman College, Tina has been active in church music ministry for over 30 years and is an ordained minister. She is the mother to two amazing grown children, who still allow her to be a nurturing mom from time to time. Her blog is an invitation to step into her life as a mom, a minister and a follower.
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