Weird isn’t it?
We have such a bi-polar media. It obsesses for months over the mom of a murdered child. (Notice I didn’t say it obsessed over the murdered child, because there is a difference, and I think the emphasis from the get-go was more on the hot chick mom.)
But after dozens of children are hunted and shot down by a lunatic in a cop uniform, the media has moved on in a few days time to more important stories, like the woman with 1,200 pairs of shoes.
At a memorial service on Friday in Norway, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said: “I think July 22 will be a very strong symbol of the Norwegian people’s wish to be united in our fight against violence, and will be a symbol of how the nation can answer with love.”
So it was at a folk festival 20,000 people held hearts skyward. It was Norway’s answer to the great evil that left so many of her children slain or wounded.
President Roosevelt’s 1942 speech, which served as an inspiration to many Norwegians fighting German occupation at the time, resonates once again:
“If there is anyone who still wonders why this war is being fought, let him look to Norway. If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted, let him look to Norway; and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about Norway this past week as I watched our church family grieve the drowning death of Zane Gaulke. I thought of Norway on Saturday as I attended the memorial service for Zane.
How does a country … a community … grieve so many of its youth at one time?
Pastor Kevin, our youth pastor, preached a sermon that was a great testament, not to Zane’s brief life so much as it was the eternal Christ he served. Pastor Kevin was in the ocean with Zane that day. He made it safely to shore. Zane did not, despite the desperate efforts of Kevin and others to help him.
It was an accident, horrific as accidents almost always are. Still there are some who would not have wanted Pastor Kevin to preach at their child’s funeral. There are some who might have had a difficult time being around those who survived. There are some whose grief would have lead them to search for someone to blame.
They answered their own great anguish in the same spirit of those in Norway. They held out their hearts to Pastor Kevin and the others who were that day. They embraced Kevin and assured him that they know, despite their great grief, that Pastor Kevin and all those others there did everything they possibly could to save their son.
I’ve heard a lot of sermons in my lifetime. I suspect you have, too. But this weekend I witnessed one of the greatest sermons ever, by the way Zane’s parents responded to their son’s death.
Today, we sent another group of kids out on a trip. This one to Honduras on a mission. At church this morning, people gathered to pray over those going. I kept my eyes opened as I prayed. There at the altar was Zane’s mama, kneeling, her hand on the back of another mother’s son, praying protection and blessing over that boy. Just the day before her own son had been rolled to that altar in a casket.
It was a scene I hope I never forget. Grace like that ought to be headline news, but it’s not. Grace doesn’t make news the way evil does. I could barely find a photo of the hearts raised skyward in Norway.
This morning before I went to church I received the following email from a reader I don’ t know:
This has been a most horrific week for me. One of the very worst in my whole long life. Why – ?
Because I am originally from Oslo, Norway. Transplanted to Maryland, USA, via California, via Minnesota, Via Apartheit, South Africa.
(12 years there. . .)
Words are not in my vocabulary; Norwegian, English or Afrikaans that might remotely describe my state of heart-head – mind – soul – body as a result of 7/22/2011 of my home town/country. Just “sick” Maybe. But, fear is NOT part of it. As providence would have it; in the midst of all this hurt, I find your book “Where Is Your Jesus NOW?” in a book store in Washington, D.C. I started reading it the same afternoon …. T.
Where’ s your Jesus Now? is a question we all have to answer someday, sooner or later.
May each of us remember to look to Norway, to Zane’s parents before responding.