Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Candle of Joy and Love"

SCRIPTURE: Ecclesiastes 3:1
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: 20 December 2012

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:" (Eccl 3:1)
Last week has been a traumatic week for many people. Events from Newtown Connecticut have rattled many of our nerves, just to imagine how violent our society has become. The media has pounded the small town with attention. Too much attention I think. All over the media, both conventional and social, in many community gatherings and religious circles, people have been talking and praying, discussing and sobbing, about the tragic deaths of 27 people. Many have gotten quite used to hearing the continuous flood of information about the tragedy. Others like me will feel that it is too much information and attention  that is preventing the Newtown community from grieving properly. From funerals to gun-control, from interviews with townsfolk to analyses by journalists, the poor folks there are inundated by unwarranted and unwanted attention. Personally, I think it is time to move on.

A) Let the Media Move On

Indeed, there is a time for mourning and a time to moving away from all the publicity. Imagine if you are a Newtown resident doing your grocery shopping, or quietly going to the neighborhood bank, or just sweeping the frontyard, along comes an out-of-town journalist asking you for the umpteenth time, your personal experience with the Newtown tragedy. Is that not opening up old wounds? Is that not re-living the tragedy all over again for the sake of the reporter selling news? Is that not an invasion of much needed privacy and time to mourn?

I think so. I think our modern competitive news reporting culture has put profits above people, sensationalism above sensitivity, and impassioned curiosity above compassionate sensibility. Enough is enough. People in Newtown needs a break from all the world's attention. They need a respite from headline news to mourn privately, live peacefully, and to reflect quietly. So much has happened and much more needs to happen. Those of us who do not live in Newtown do not need more news. We need more prayefulness and compassion. The time has come for the press to move on, for the Newtown folks to live on, and for the rest of us to carry on our daily lives.

B) Let Newtown Begin Their Mourning and Healing

There is a time for everything. There is a time to mourn, mourn. When there is a time for joy, rejoice. With Christmas just a few days away, we are caught smack in the middle of joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness, activity and passivity. Where do we put our emotions during this time? This is what mourning is about. It is a time where one learns to put grief in perspective, mourning in action, and remembering in progress. Where there are funerals, observe the families' privacy and quiet space. Where there are opportunities to interview any of the townsfolks, refrain. Enough is enough. For the sake of neighbourliness, let the media retreat back to their own offices or other assignments. Enough is enough. For the sake of the parents whose children had died, just pray for them. Enough is enough. For the rest of us, let us also do our part. We have heard and seen enough.

I have heard news of media climbing over one another to push a mike in front of a terrified child who had just lost a friend. Enough is enough. With the media around, it is difficult, almost impossible to grieve.

No more flashbacks of how horrible the whole shooting is. No more psychoanalyzing the killer or the moods of the surviving families. No more interviews of children in trauma. No more invading the turf of our dear teachers and children's private lives. When the rest of the world ignore the news reports, the media will leave the families and the children alone. They will leave the traumatized community alone. They will leave Newtown alone. They will leave Newtown.

C) Let Us Do Our Part

Here is what needs to happen. We the news consumers can choose NOT to consume any more news of Newtown, for the sake of granting the Newtown folks greater privacy. When there is a TV report on Newtown, let us change channels or turn off. When there is a newspaper article, choose another paper instead. When people talk about it, walk away. For when there is no interest, there will be no coverage. Plain and simple. Christmas is coming. We can remember them. We can pray for them. For the sake of human kindness, let us move on, and let the healing begin.

There is a time for everything. As we look toward Christmas time, we ask, how is it possible to have joy during this time? It is tough. The year 2012 has not been kind to some of us. I know. Just today, I hear of a brother and sister in Christ who had lost their son to leukemia. It is really sad news, especially when the name of the son has so much in common with the Nativity theme in Christmas.

With sorrow comes the promise of joy. The joy just to know that children go straight into the arms of the Father's loving embrace. The joy just to know that there will be no more suffering for the boy. The joy just to know that there is a time for everything, a time to grieve, and a time to move on.

A healthy person will know the difference. He will not be rushed from one emotion to another. He will not be hushed to behave in any way that is unbecoming of character. He will instead wait upon the Lord. He will pace himself. He will let the Lord carry him along.

When I read John 11 about Martha and Mary, I am glad that the gospel writer records, "Jesus wept." Certainly, Jesus knows when to rejoice and when to weep. For love knows when to weep and when to rejoice. Love is aware of when to push and when to pull; when to hang on, and when to let go; when to go forth and when to hold back. It is love that came down at Christmas.

D) We Rejoice Not of Circumstances but of Christ

My friends, there is a time for everything. We need to learn that rejoicing is not a matter of circumstances, presents, or multiple friends around us. Our reason for hope, peace, joy, and love is centered on one person: Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season. Always.

Even in the midst of tragedy, there is a Person we can rejoice in. I understand that some quarters in the world are preparing for a coming Mayan calendar doomsday. Let me assure you that the Lord Himself has said that no one knows when the last day is. We do not need to worry or panic over any Armageddon looming upon us. Just fix our eyes on Jesus, knowing that He is control of everything, including time. For God is timeless, unbounded by time.

This Christmas is a perfect time to remember that Christ, born a child and yet a king, will certainly come again in glory and in honour. He came to earth as a little helpless baby. He will come again in power and in might. Just thinking of that day again, gives us a vision of a candle of hope that will grow in hope. It is a vision of everlasting peace that will be brought about by the Prince of Peace. It gives us joy unspeakable in the Person of Christ. It gives us Love Unlimited in the arms of God, our Heavenly Father.

Merry Christmas to you my readers.

THOUGHT: "Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves." (Eric Sevareid)


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