Our child-happy Christmas was violated last year on December 14 by the brutal murder of children in Sandy Hook Elementary School. The world will not be glued to the television in the same way this weekend, but we will pause in many ways to remember the tragedy.
Last year I shared this on my Facebook page:
We are all in disbelieving pain over the darkness of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Rational people believe there are answers that explain why people do evil things. But the very definition of evil is chaos – irrational darkness in which nothing holds together and everything keeps falling apart. No one can “explain” evil, but I do believe God is to be found where evil occurs because God has not abandoned creation.
Across the nation on the Sunday following the tragedy, pastors preached from the biblical text of Herod slaughtering the innocents of Bethlehem. The word many people use to describe this kind of world is “godless.” I suppose this is because God seems far away. But maybe God is most present where evil does its killing.
I was sitting in church that Sunday following last year and we were singing the sweet lullaby, “What Child is This?” Somehow, the child on Mary’s lap now sleeping was not enough to help me deal with Sandy Hook. I went home and wrote the following words for the same tune. While the pain of last year is not as intense, the reality of a brutal world is still with us. And so is the God who comes.
“What Child Is This?”
A Tribute to Sandy Hook
What child is this, who, laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of…
What child is this who went to school, on Friday morn so hopeful?
A child once graced by human care; no fear, unscarred by evil.
This, this is our dear child, our future bright and undefiled.
Cry, cry for such a world, where innocent life is…
While lies he in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians fear; for sinners here the silent Word is pleading.
Nails and spear shall pierce him through, the cross he bore for me, for you;
Hail, hail the God made flesh, the babe, the son of…
Such end of life, these deeds so dark, assault a peace so fragile;
A deadly cross, a violent loss, a God with children mangled.
Grieve, grieve for children lost, as darkness rends its sobering cost.
Hope, hope for God’s new world, born in the son of Mary.
Born in the son of Mary.
By William Chatterton Dix 1865 (Public Domain)
Additional lyrics by Dr. Dan Boone 2012 and Arrangement Billy Petty 2012
In honor of lives lost and the families of the Newtown, CT, shooting, December 2012
© 2012 Consuming Worship Songs (BMI) (admin. by Music Services)/Trevecca Songs (BMI) (admin. by Consuming Worship c/o Music Services). All rights reserved.