Keeping Christmas…life after Newtown

It’s been an unbelievable week, hasn’t it? One short week ago, life was blissfully normal and we were aflutter with holiday hustle and bustle. We were making plans for making merry. We were worrying about which gifts we’d buy and whether or not we had enough of them in our carts. We were looking forward to parties and recitals and school performances.

And then the tragic events of last Friday unfolded and our plans ground to a halt. We went under for the weekend, shielding our children from the news for as long as we could, yet scrolling through our Facebook newsfeeds and watching in horror as the facts unfolded on TV. We hugged our little ones and one another. We prayed. We wept.

We’re still weeping.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been feeling a little unable to be fully joyful in the face of such evil. And yet for some reason, today, I thought (of all things) of the story of The Grinch. I thought about how Christmas came to Whoville no matter what the Grinch did to try to stop it. Christmas came anyway. In the peaceful quiet of a winter morning, voices rang out and Christmas came.

It will come for us, too.

Our God is so much bigger than this evil and He will guide us to wherever it is that we go from here. Yes, there are BIG things that need to happen in our country and our world, but there are also a thousand little things. Most of us probably need to pray for the people in charge of those big things, and busy ourselves with the little things.

When I was little, my dad used to tell me at funerals that we “live for the living”. He’d remind me that life must go on even when we are sad and grieving. And so it must for us. Our own children are blessedly alive and they need us to be fully present and joyful for them. We can’t let the inexcusable acts of one sick young man dampen the most magical and sacred time of year for our own families. We can’t let this steal Christmas, my friends. We have little things to manage well. We have cookies to bake, gifts to give, visits to make, carols to sing, and church services to attend.

I’m not asking you to forget. I’m asking you to transform your grief into action – to do the little things you can for those whom you can touch. Love more. Give more. Play more. Give joy a chance to shine through your tears.

We’ve just had a painful reminder that life is sometimes far shorter than planned. These moments give us an opportunity to pause and reflect on our own lives. Are you living yours to the fullest? What would it take for you to do that in 2013? What will you do? Whom will you serve? How will you heal?

In the quiet and solemn moments of the weeks ahead, listen for the answers. I’m sure they’ll be there for each of us, showing us our unique role in the BIG and little plans for where we go from here.

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