Out of respect for the grieving parents and family, I don’t want to even mention the name of the murdered little six year old boy I saw in the casket.
I attended the first funeral of 20 massacred children in Connecticut. I was the last in line.
In our media-saturated, intrusive, if-it-bleeds-it-leads age of random fiction and non-fictional violence, the up close, zoomed in and personal reaction shot seems like naked intrusion into the deeply personal sorrow, sadness and search for meaning by all who attend a funeral on an occasions such as this.
Last Friday, December 14, 2012 was like another 9/11 event for many of us in the United States. It touched many as the worst form of meaningless random terror on a scale that leads to a personal and a collective numbing shock.
I shook the hands of mother and father and teenage brother in the first row, saying I was a pastor in New York City. I said I have four children. I told mom and dad the congregation was praying for them, we love them and my wife is thinking of her.
The boy’s mom was very present, very outgoing, very moved and appreciative as I looked into her and her husband’s very pleasant and kind eyes. They are very genuine, authentic New England Americans. Somehow they represented our country in the moment—ordinary, yet extraordinary. But sadly caught in the cross hairs of senseless terror.
Then I turned, looked toward the open casket. There he was, face beaming, as if he could open his eyes in a second and crack a great big smile. Here was the cutest little 6 year old boy you ever saw, a boy like everybody wants, vivacious, athletic, fun.
He looks as if he is merely sleeping.
According to the Bible, that is exactly what he is doing. That is what all 20 children killed in this beautiful small Connecticut town are doing. Sleeping. And after sleep comes life.
But what does this traumatic experience for 40 mothers and fathers, dozens of brothers and sisters, thousands of friends, and hundreds of millions Americans mean?
Within the tears that I experienced driving back to New York City yesterday, it came to me that when you meditate on the Word of God in the midst of these experiences, there is a very strong message from God. It is the core message of Christ. The entire Bible is about it.
What is it? The answer from Scripture is not what the grieving are being told. I’ll be writing more on this tomorrow.