I woke this morning to the breaking news…”Lone Gunman dead at siege and…..two other innocent lives lost.”
Only yesterday, my friend Isabel sent us a Whatsapp to say that Ryan’s colleague’s sister was one of the hostages. This morning, I am shocked to hear that this 2nd-degree connection fell victim to the siege and that her 3 young children have lost a beautiful, successful mother while trying to save her pregnant colleague.
As a Christian, you question God. You question why God would let that happen to the lives of happy, innocent children of His with such a bright future ahead of them. It’s not just two lives that are lost, but the family and loved ones of those victims that have to bear this loss for the rest of their lives. Why, oh why? And to think that this could happen to any one of us. It does raise confusion and even anger….and how do we deal with those emotions? Pray more and ask God? Get angry with God?
And while all of this sadness was going through my mind today and while I continue to scroll through Facebook’s Newsfeed with a variety of different posts and opinions on this topic, I can across this one. This one that put me at peace.
Lastly, I will end with this: Remember to give your loved ones a kiss before you leave the door. Every day. Yes, EVERY DAY, no matter how busy you are or how much of a rush you are in. Because, just because, you may never know whether it will be the last time they hear you tell them that you love them. #Cherish
Dear church family,
No doubt you have heard of the terrible events that have happened over the last day. In the space of a short 18 hours, an armed siege at Martin Place by a lone gunman had turned terribly tragic. Now three lives have been lost – two hostages (Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson); the gunman himself (Man Haron Monis) – and at least three others injured.
We are all different and we all process tragedy differently. Some of us are okay and will experience no noticeable impact in the aftermath. Others, however, may be more shaken and upset. Neither reaction is right or wrong. But your elders and pastors would like to take the opportunity to write to you a short note, in the hope that it may minister to you at this time, whatever you feel or don’t feel.
Now of course, we are still processing the tragedy ourselves. The points below are going to be a bit rough, slightly rushed, and they certainly won’t be our final word. However, we hope they’ll be a helpful first word from us to you:
In this time, let us encourage you to:
Give yourself permission to feel: sadness, confusion, pain, loss, fear; even anger, indignation, or rage.
The Bible is full of ‘laments’. Not a few of those laments also contain feelings of anger, indignation, and even rage. Take for example, Psalm 139.
It’s ok to feel. The uniqueness of the Christian message is that we have a God who feels. And isn’t Christmas about how this God stepped into human life in order that he might feel even more deeply, understand even more thoroughly, and in order that might be our sympathetic High Priest? (Hebrews 4:14-15)
Let the brokenness of the world drive you to speak to your Heavenly Father – openly, candidly, honestly. Pray even if words are hard to express. Pray even if it carries with it questions that you don’t have answers for. Pray knowing that the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8:26).
And of course, as sons and daughters of the One who holds all things in his hands, pray prayers of intercession for those in particular need at this time. Pray for the victims and their families; pray for the Muslim community who are especially fearful at the moment; pray for our law enforcement officers and agencies; pray for our politicians; pray for our city.
And pray that this will drive more people to seek hope where hope is found and repent before it’s too late (Luke 13:1-9).
It’s times like these that the hope that Jesus brings becomes even more tangible and real. In times of tragedy, the angel’s words announcing the coming of the promised ‘Saviour’ at the first Christmas all of a sudden doesn’t seem so cliched does it? (Luke 2:11)
It’s so easy to forget that the message of salvation implies we need to be saved from something. Perhaps yesterday’s tragedy is an apt reminder of its true meaning. We need rescuing from the brokenness of our fallen world. We need deliverance from the brokenness that we as a rebellious humanity have brought into God’s perfect world. We need salvation from sin; from its consequences both now and on the day of Judgement. We need saving from ourselves and the evil one who holds the world captive to do his will.
Jesus is the promised Saviour. By his death and resurrection he has dealt with sin once and for all as our representative and substitute. By his resurrection he has opened up God’s new promised future and has brought it into the present. And he will return again to make all things new (Revelation 21-22).
This Christmas, cling to these gospel truths with a tenacity that you have perhaps forgotten. Cling to them even through tears and taste just how sweet these truths can be.
Find opportunities to talk about these things. Talk about your feelings. And even if you don’t feel strongly about what’s happened, talk about it with others who may be trying to process their feelings.
In our Heavenly Father’s sovereignty, perhaps he will use this tragedy to awaken a sleepy world. While others may be processing it in their own way, God’s people can truly act as priests to our grieving society, speaking hope where hope cannot be found.
And parents, don’t shy away from the opportunities to speak to your children about these events, as is age appropriate. Use these times to bring your family closer to each other and to the Lord.
And finally let love, which covers over a multitude of sins, be the balm that heals our hurting city and country. This is an especially opportune time to love our neighbours, and even our enemies.
Love our Australian Muslim neighbours who may be feeling threatened and fearful. (#illridewithyou is a great example.)
Love each other enough to take time to mourn with those who mourn.
Love the world enough to speak of the hope that Christ truly brings this Christmas.
And keep loving and trusting our Saviour. Even in bad times. Especially in bad times.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Your brothers in Christ,
The elders and pastors of SWCCC.