Who knew?

The Covington News - - RELIGION - JAN MCCOY COLUM­NIST Rev. Jan McCoy is the as­so­ciate pas­tor of Cov­ing­ton First United Methodist Church in down­town Cov­ing­ton. She may be reached at jan.mccoy@ngumc.net.

“Look! A vir­gin will be­come preg­nant and give birth to a son, And they will call him, Em­manuel (God with us).”

Matthew 1:23 (Com­mon English Bi­ble)

Dur­ing the past two weeks, I have walked with sev­eral fam­i­lies through tragedies and ter­mi­nal ill­nesses that have weighed heav­ily on all of our hearts and lives. In the midst of trauma and tragedy, we of­ten can­not even pray for our­selves be­cause words just will not come... At those times when we can’t even think of the words, the Holy Spirit in us prays for us, even in­ter­pret­ing our groans and sighs into prayers that God un­der­stands.

Who knew that when I wrote th­ese words last Thurs­day, they would be more mean­ing­ful than ever on Fri­day? As we gath­ered around the news flash on the com­puter at the of­fice to watch the hor­ri­ble af­ter­math, the words rang out like bells on Christ­mas morn­ing: God is with us. God is with us.

As we gath­ered around to pray for the fam­i­lies and those in the wake of the storm that claimed so many lives in Con­necti­cut, our prayer was sim­ply, “Dear God, be with them.”

Who knew that the Long­est Night ser­vice planned for Sun­day night would take on even greater sig­nif­i­cance than any of us had imag­ined? As we gath­ered to re­mem­ber those losses in our own lives, some­how those losses were over­shad­owed by a greater loss — the loss of the in­no­cents. The words “Rachel weep­ing for her chil­dren be­cause they were no more” brought to us the sober truth that the manger birth that we see dis­played on Christ­mas cards and on church lawns was in re­al­ity no pretty sight. Who knew that as a na­tion, we would learn what those words really meant as we wept for those chil­dren and adults who are no more?

Some peo­ple ask, “Where was God in this tragedy?” God was in the school with those hud­dled around in safe spa­ces wait­ing for the si­lence of gun­fire. God was cradling those who died in in­vis­i­ble lov­ing arms. God was with the par­ents who rushed to get their chil­dren, only to find out that, like those chil­dren so long ago, their chil­dren were no more. God was with us as we watched the tragedy and awaited the press con­fer­ences.

God is with us, even in the messy stuff of life. Christ­mas is not about the presents and the gifts, but about the Pres­ence — the gift of Em­manuel — God with us even in the worst sit­u­a­tions that we could imag­ine — even on Fri­day when time slowed down and peace on earth was shat­tered by the si­lence of gun­fire. In the dy­ing words of John Wes­ley, “The best of all, God is with us.”

That is the best news of all. In the best and even in the worst mo­ments of our lives, God is with us. We are not alone.

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