The Newtown School Tragedy and The Mission of the Church

Connexus friends. I wrote this post for my personal blog but wanted to post it here. I couldn’t be more grateful for the way so many of you serve, give, pray, and invite week in and week out. You are truly making the world a different and better place by what you do. – Carey

Like everyone else, I’m devastated over the mass school shooting at Newtown Connecticut yesterday. The thought of school children being gunned down before their life had barely begun is tragic beyond words.

It’s one of those moments where few of us really have words to describe what we feel. We’re shocked, devastated and simply want it to stop.

Our prayers are with the families and with everyone else impacted by this indescribably sad event.

Moments like this call out all kind of instincts in us. We wonder what could have been done to prevent the tragedy. Calls are going out for changes to laws and renewed gun control measures.

Events like yesterday’s also call out the instinct to pray and turn to God.

Last night and this morning, citizens of Newtown flooded churches in response to the shootings. Hashtags on twitter like #PrayforNewtown are seeing hundreds of tweets per minute. People tend to see the need for Jesus and the church most clearly in the wake of a tragedy.  People flooded back after 9/11, after natural disasters and after significant crises that stop us in our tracks.

I’m so thankful that we have those instincts. Church is exactly where we all need to be during and after a crisis. It’s exactly where churched people and unchurched people belong – in the presence of a Heavenly Father and Saviour who really do love the world.

But then, inevitably, life resumes its normal pace and we forget.

What bothers me is that sometimes as a church leader I even forget how urgent our mission is. The daily grind has a way of dulling urgency that’s subtle but so sad.

Sometimes I’m tempted to think that next Sunday is just another Sunday. It’s not. It never is.

Sometimes I almost drift into thinking that what the church does is important, but maybe not ‘most important’.  That’s so wrong. It’s the most important force at work in the world because it’s Jesus’ church.

Sometimes I’m tempted to think what we do is cool. It’s not cool. It’s the difference between life and death.

The mission of the church is always urgent. The need to introduce people to the love of Christ is no different today than it was last Wednesday or in July before any of this happened. It’s as urgent as ever.

The mission of the church is urgent because it is the one thing that changes everything.

And so I’m reminded on this day that what we do on Sunday is the most important thing we could do. And how we live out mission of our Saviour all next week and beyond in praying, inviting, serving and giving is indeed the most important thing we can do.

To all of you who do this week in and week out – thank you.

To all of you who want to join in during seasons like this – thank you.

Now let’s just roll up our sleeves and live like it was the most urgent thing we could do. Every day.

When the church reaches its mission, people change. And when people change, communities are transformed, nations change and the world changes.

There is nothing more important you and I can do with your time and influence in the next week (and for the rest of your life) than fulfill the mission Christ gave us.

Nothing.

For it is the one thing that changes everything, as we are reminded again this week.

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1 Comment

  1. Josh Gould says, December 15, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    “But then, inevitably, life resumes its normal pace and we forget.”

    This concept of God is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer refers to as “the God of Religion.” People turn to God in times of need thinking that God will somehow make everything better and then when the moment passes, they forget about God. God as an emotional crutch.

    Others cry out “where is God in this tragedy?” This is what some like to call the puppeteer God. If only God had done something then this wouldn’t have happened.

    The problem is that both of these God’s are ultimately, impotent. He’s only there to serve our needs and then we boot him out the door.

    I’m reminded of the Elie Wiesel’s story “Night” where the author hears someone cry out “where is God” as a boy is hung in a Nazi concentration camp. He hears a voice inside his head saying in response, “God is hanging on the gallows.”

    This is not a denial of God, but a rejection of the God of Religion who tells us everything will be fine, then we move on. Is this how we should read the cross? “Where is God? Where is he now?” “He is here, he is hanging on the cross.”

    Where is God in this tragedy? He was shot and lays dead among the victims.

    And Jesus wept.

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