Weekly Meanderings: For Newtown

 

A story from Elie Wiesel: Once, when speaking to his master, Rebbe Menahem Mendel Schneersohn of Lubavitch, the rebbe inquired why Wiesel was so angry at God.
“Because I loved Him too much,” I replied.
“And now?” he asked.
“Now too.  And because I love Him, I am angry at Him.”
The Rebbe disagreed:  “To love God is to accept that you do not understand Him.”
I asked whether one could love God without having faith.  He told me faith had to precede all the rest.
“Rebbe,” I asked, “how can you believe in God after Auschwitz?”
He looked at me in silence for a long moment, his hands resting on the table. Then he replied, in a soft,  barely audible voice, “How can you not  believe in God after Auschwitz?” (E. Wiesel, All Rivers Run to the Sea , 402-403).

Jim Martin: For many years, I have had a front row seat to witness the work and vocation of many schoolteachers. My grandmother, Iris Martin, taught 5th grade for many years in Oklahoma and Arkansas. My mother-in-law, Maye Coil, taught elementary school for a long time. My wife has taught elementary school children for almost 25 years. There are a number of other family members who have served as schoolteachers.

I am not surprised at the heroic actions of these teachers and other school personnel in Connecticut. Besides a child’s family, I don’t know anyone with any greater determination to protect, teach, and bless a child than his or her teacher.

The teachers in my family loved their children. It was obvious by the way they talked about their students. It was obvious in what they did to help and even intervene on behalf of their students.

Again and again, I have seen teachers give their time and energy to this calling. Teachers work many, many hours beyond those in the classroom. So many of them spend their own money purchasing materials for their room and their students. Teachers work with parents and their children. They do way more than what might actually happen during the classroom hours. Not only do they teach children but they also intervene in troubled situations. Teachers are the ones who encourage parents to take a child for an eye exam because she can’t see the whiteboard. Some children come to school and find that their teacher is the only person in their lives they can count on for a word of encouragement. Most teachers I’ve known deeply care for the welfare of their children, their education, and their overall well-being.

So is it surprising when a horrific day reveals that teachers have acted heroically?

No.

Lutheran Church Charities sent a team of seven golden retriever comfort dogs and their handlers to the town where 27 people were killed in the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

The pastor of Newtown’s Christ the King Lutheran Church — which is holding many of the funerals — asked the group to help out, and the crew arrived Saturday evening.

The dogs and their handlers spent Sunday meeting with people affected by the shootings and were present for the vigil at Newtown High School Sunday evening. On Monday they will be at some of the other Newtown schools talking to children.

The dogs are used to help provide a comforting bridge to help people open up about a tragedy. The individuals can pet the dogs while they talk or pray with the handler.

A woman offering prayers by lighting a candle.

Father Rob: “In last Sunday’s sermon, I tried to begin an answer to the question that was raised in the Gospel we read (Luke 3:7-18). It was the question of “What should we then do?” The people who asked this question then suffered great grief and sorrow because they lived in such a broken and violent world. So do we. They wanted to know how they could make their world better. So do we. What should we then do? Of course time did not permit a full discussion of the answer to that question before us, and I am not smart enough to know the full answer in the first place. But I wanted to suggest that the place for me to begin is with me, and what things I can do differently to create a better world. And the place for you to begin is with you, and what specific things you can do differently to create a better world.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Steve Sherwood

    These were all beautiful. Thank you.

  • Debbie

    Thank you Scot…. I echo what Jim Martin wrote. Many of my family is employed in the education system… teachers, counselors etc. They are a dedicated group of professionals who love their students and their jobs. Like the educators in Newtown, they would not hesitate to put themselves between their students and an armed individual. All teachers and educators should be championed for their dedication.


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