Is there anything left to be thankful for?
It seems the list has all but evaporated in so many ways.
People are hurting. All over the world, in Newtown, in Clackamas... I've spent a lot of time thinking things like "What is wrong with people? What is happening to the world?"
I know people who were at the Clackamas Town Center just hours before the shooting.
My uncle went to school at Sandy Hook Elementary.
But you know what? Without disregarding the evil that has touched down so close to home, we must - we must - praise the light that has flickered into a blaze out of this horrific darkness.
Robbie Parker is a man who has faced a parent's worst nightmare.
This man has lost his daughter, six year old Emilie. But this man, among the others who have not and will not go unnoticed or be forgotten, has emerged as a hero in this tragedy. He has stood out as someone who is shaken, bent and beaten
but not broken.
Robbie Parker is grace.
His daughter is gone and his suffering unimaginable, but he is radiating a peace that defies all understanding:
"Let [this be] something that inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate and more humble people."
And to the other families hurting, directly including the Lanza family, he said this:
"I can't imagine how hard this experience must be for you. And I want you to know that our family, and our love, and our support goes out to you as well."
And the most humbling, truly loving, and most grace-filled thing this man could offer:
"I'm not mad.... If there's anything I can do to help anybody at anytime anywhere, I'm willing to do that."
That is what grace can do.
God - you are up to something.
I don't understand why You allow these things to happen all over the world and all the time, not just when it makes national news, but I have to trust that there is something in that bigger picture of Yours that I cannot see. My viewfinder is a mere fraction of a pinhole compared to what You see.
But through that I see that love and forgiveness are always possible.
My gratitude for the capacity for grace that You have given people like Robbie Parker allows that promise of Yours to endure. You promised us that our trespasses are forgiven as we forgive those who trespass against us.
This man and his wife have had their lives trespassed upon. His baby girl's life has been taken. His two surviving daughters have had their innocence violated.
And he has humbled himself to show forgiveness with a peace that makes no sense at all.
Because that is how you love people.
Because that is how we are loved.
And I know God is smiling on Robbie Parker. The enemy has struck him with a true deathblow and he has turned the other cheek.
"Well done good and faithful servant."
And I believe that God is holding those twenty precious babies in His mighty hands, cradling them close and covering them with a love I can't even comprehend. How amazing is that?
So tonight I am grateful for people like Robbie Parker for proving that forgiveness is greater.
Please do not let these events turn your hearts to hate and revenge.
Let this instead urge us toward the love this world so desperately needs.
Grace + Peace to you.