The Advent Season was here, and we were pondering its beauty, when a senseless tragedy occurred on December 2, 2015. Fourteen of our neighbors were brutally murdered and many others wounded as a group of men and women gathered for an office Christmas celebration in San Bernardino. The events of that dark day revealed a new kind of evil that has penetrated into our lives in the United States and began a plethora of emotions.
The women of Trinity Church gathered the following evening for our Annual Christmas Celebration called “Majesty in A Manger”. Donna Stark, one of our leaders in Women’s Ministries offered a prayer for the victims and their families. She quoted Psalm 34:18 in the midst of our sorrow, “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” We cannot make sense from these horrific events, but in the midst of sorrow, we have a God who holds us close.
We gathered for worship on the Sunday following the tragedy and Pastor Dave Jenkins also prayed for all the people involved in this heartless action. His message on Isaiah 7-9 was timely, knowing that our fears are natural. He titled his sermon “The Gleam in the Gloom”, reminding us that The Advent addresses our fears because our hope is in Jesus and that a relationship with Him makes all the difference.
Evil first exposed itself in a beautiful garden where God intimately walked and talked with His beloved creations. Then entered the enemy. As the enemy spoke lies, man chose evil over good causing a separation from our Holy God. God revealed His plan of hope and grace that would include a sacrificial Lamb, who arrived on the first Christmas; Jesus, Immanuel (meaning God with us). He came, was victorious over sin and death, and is now preparing our forever home.
The senseless tragedy of December 2nd is not the end of the story. Christmas, where Majesty was born in a manger, is not the end of the story; neither is Easter, when the Lord rose from the grave. Our Savior will return, and evil will cease. Until that glorious day, we have our hope in Him. When evil raises its ugly head, as it did during a Christmas celebration in our very own Inland Empire, the Lord is indeed close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
In the new year, as we walk forward in the healing process of the aftermath of the mass shootings, rather than walk in fear, may we love on our neighbors, and keep our eyes on Jesus, the Light (Gleam) of this dark world.
In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
One day every tear will be wiped away and we will know only His goodness and light. “For The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
Our Hope Lies – in Him!
By Linda Arnett