In a few days, people around the earth will celebrate the birth of a child — a child who changed the world forever. Christmas celebrates the miracle of birth, the miracle of children in our lives. Christmas is a time of wonder and magic, of mystery and anticipation. In the deepest cold of winter and the longest nights of darkness, Christmas reminds us of joy and light, of laughter and love.
But this year, families across the country will remember this season for another reason. They will remember today, Dec. 14, as the day that a man with a gun stole a child away forever from their family. Twenty families will remember children killed in Newtown, Conn. one year ago today. As they remember the birth of a baby in a manger, they will also remember their own birth and raising a child. They will remember sending their child to school, to the safety of friends and committed teachers. And they will remember that they will never see that child alive again.
They will pray for guidance. They will cry and mourn and ask “Why?” Perhaps they will find answers. Perhaps the wisdom to cope with such devastating loss will be delivered to them. Perhaps the grace to forgive the executioner will be granted. Perhaps their faith will sustain them in the absence of any rational reason for the meaningless death of 20 children.
They will pray in silence. Many of us will join in silent remembrance as well, connecting perhaps through our own pains of grief and loss. We will weep silently and feel the dread cold of the eternal night surrounding us all, but which came far too early for these 20 lives.
But, the question, “Why?” must not be asked silently. The question “Why?” should be shouted from every home, at every legislative office, in every hall of government. Why do we allow people to access guns freely without background checks? Why are we incapable of passing one law controlling the sale of guns when the overwhelming majority of Americans desire it? Why do we do nothing as our children continue to die?
Jesus taught the ways of peace. The babe born on Christmas Day commanded his disciples to sheathe their swords, saying that those who take up the sword will die by the sword. America has taken up and embraced guns with the caress that should be reserved only for infants. And we are paying the price for nurturing a gun culture with the blood of our children.
So when you go to your church to honor the babe, pray silently for the 20 lost children, who will never know another Christmas with their families. But come home and scream, “Why?” Go forth and demand that America put down the sword and pass sensible gun legislation. Shout until your voice cracks and your throat grows hoarse so that no family must endure this pain again. Let there be no more silence — let us send out the call for remembrance and resolve.