Almost half of the readers of this blog are American, and this week, I would like to dedicate my post to you. As details surface of the unspeakable horror that robbed twenty school children and six staff of their lives in Newtown Connecticut last week, shock and disbelief give way to profound grief and mourning. Support is so powerfully and generously pouring in from your leaders and your fellow citizens. Please know that your neighbours to the north also stand with you in grief.
Across Canada, flags fly at half-mast. Prayers are lifted up in churches, homes, and hearts. Moments of silence are observed in schools and other places of work. Tuesday morning, outside the high school where I work, teachers gathered together before classes started and listened to a reading of the name and age of each victim. I’m sure that every one of us wondered whether we, if caught up in such a nightmare, would have it in us to act as bravely and sacrificially as our fallen colleagues to the south. When the school day began Tuesday, all staff and students stood for a minute of silence to honour the lives lost.
One of the classes at Sandy Hook Elementary School was preparing to make gingerbread houses that day. So many of the children were looking forward to Christmas. What a staggering contrast there is between the cold-blooded massacre of children and the one whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. He came into the world as a baby. He distinguished himself as a child. And when he was a man, he welcomed and valued children, and spoke with uncompromising vehemence against anyone who would corrupt and harm them. He lifted up children as a role model for us all. “Allow little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:16)
The closer you are to the centre of horror, the more raw the devastation of its impact. As much as everyone of my acquaintance has been shaken by this atrocity, I know that Americans must feel it more acutely. Please accept my condolences on behalf of Canadians for your nation’s grief. The sweet faces of the children you have lost are etched on our minds. Their names are known to us, as are the names of the devoted staff who took bullets in an effort to protect their precious charges. You are not grieving alone. You have our support and good will. May God give you comfort and strength, and may God bless America.