My heart and mind is still filled with images and overwhelmed with emotions about the school shooting in Newtown. As a pastor, I am dealing with parents and others looking for answers where there are none but I am offering them the Hope that this season of Christmas promises and praying that we will see God’s Light in the darkness.
I have had many conversations with people about “how to stop” these kinds of things from happening – fixing our mental health system, stricter gun laws, safer schools, etc.
I want to say that I don’t have the complete answer to solving that problem. I read a haunting article on the first school bombing which took place in 1927 where 45 students and teachers were killed. It made me take a very deep breath and realize that this is not a problem of our generation – it is a problem of our human nature. It is a problem that only the God we find in a manger and on a cross can solve.
Yes…we must do ALL we can to make things safer but we must also do all we can to expose the darkness to the Light so that real change can take place.
At the same time that all this has been happening, I have been meeting with a group of people who wanted to study about how they could have “A Different Kind of Christmas.” It has been a wonderful study. We cried a lot as conviction ran through us. We laughed at ourselves and the ways we get caught up the commercialization of this Holy Day. We promised to look at ways we really can change the way we celebrate this holiday. We made plans for next year so we would not be facing the same convictions. And…we talked about living simply so others could simply live.
Personally, I have made a commitment to get rid of a killer. Watch this:
At least half of everything I receive at Christmas this year will be going to rid the world of the killer that is malaria. We may not know how to stop a shooter in our schools (yet), but with just ten dollars, I know that I can buy a mosquito net that will stop this other killer from taking the life of a child. I have been “texting” donations during worship. I am setting aside money to send in to “Imagine No Malaria” and I have just been letting everyone I know that this is something that captures my passion.
I have even gone so far as to try and get the Imagine No Malaria team to send confirmations of text donations on Christmas Eve that include a picture of a candle, so that we can have “two” candle lighting services at Christmas Eve this year. (Those of you who go to Christmas Eve services and have cell phones…think about it…let your imagination go for a minute!) I don’t know if the folks at INM have worked things out with mGive.org yet, but I am still praying that they will. (mGive, United Methodist Communications and Imagine No Malaria are all great groups…I just pray that they can capture this vision as well.)
At the end of our “Different Kind of Christmas” study, the group I was with gave Jesus a wonderful gift in my name. Together, our class gathered enough money to buy ten more nets.
It may not sound like a lot to you – but think of it as ten more children getting to live. Ten more parents not having to grieve. Ten more people laughing and hugging and celebrating Jesus’ birthday.
I think Jesus would like that!
See you on the way home…and know that on Christmas Eve, I will be texting “MALARIA” to 27722 in order to send another $10 to get rid of a killer that can be stopped.