I'm a big fan of Peter King's "Monday Morning Quarterback" column for SI. So I'm going to steal his lead and share the "10 Things I Think I Think" from this past week. I'll start with four thoughts on this weekend's tragic events in Newtown, CT and close out with six thoughts on what happened this week at BridgeWay.
1. We live in a dark world, in need of the light of Christ. There was no more powerful reminder of the true reason for the season than what took place in Newtown, CT on Friday morning. Christ came to bring light & hope to a dark world. This morning I'm reminded of the words of John in John 1.
4 In (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it...9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
2. Our schools are still safe places for our children. While events like what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School cause us to question this statement, the truth is that our nations Public School Administrators and Educators do a tremendous job of providing safe environments for our children. There are 98,000 public schools in the United States, serving nearly 50,000,000 children each year. In the past 10 years there have been 38 children who have lost their lives in school related violence. This means that in any given year there is a 1 in 12,000,000 of a child losing their life in such a setting. While by comparison, in any given year, there is a 1 in 5,000 chance of a child losing their life in an automobile accident.
3. Now is the time for grieving with those who grieve. While there is a time for talking about what to do regarding the issue of school safety, gun control, and mass shootings; leveraging incidents like what took place in Newtown to support a political platform is not appropriate at this time. I'm reminded that the one thing that Job's friends got right after the loss of his family was that they shut their mouths and simply grieved with him. My prayer is that we would follow their example for at least the next 7 days.
"Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was." - Job 2:13
4. A moment of silence.
5. Every parent should hug their children today & everyday. Turn off the laptop. Set down the phone. Put away the ipad. Sit down with your children and play a game, wrap a present, or read a book. Get off the couch and bake some cookies, go for a walk, or have a wrestling match. Or better yet, get on your knees and pray together.
6. I'm super proud of our volunteer teams. This weekend we made changes to our worship service in the light of Friday's events, and the teams who were affected by these changes all rolled with them very well. Not only that, but we saw nearly 100 more people in worship than we do on a typical weekend, and all of our teams did a great job with the increased demands.
7. There's nothing like the local church, when the local church is working right. Because of the amazing volunteers who serve here every week I can focus on Sundays on communicating the message of the day. It's amazing to see how God uses each of our gifts to impact lives with the gospel of Christ. I was especially aware of this reality on Sunday. You had to be there to truly understand what I'm saying, but if you were there, I'm sure you get it.
8. David Crowder's version of "The First Noel" has become one of my favorite Christmas songs. We sang this in both worship experiences this weekend and it has been stuck in my head ever since.
9. God helped me big time this weekend. Saturday afternoon I felt led to toss the message I'd written and to address Friday's events from a pastoral perspective. I'm so glad I did. God's Spirit was present in a powerful way, and I'm convinced that anything good that was said was straight from God and not from me. Never have I been so aware of the Holy Spirit's activity in preaching than I was on Sunday.
10. Christmas Worship at BridgeWay is going to be off the charts! We have been putting together some great elements for all three of our worship experiences next weekend. You don't want to miss it! We've planned three worship times at 9:30, 11am, and 5pm next Sunday, and there are only about 100 seats left between the three times combined! Needless to say, "I'd get here early to get a good seat, or to make sure I had a seat for that matter."