Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Today we listen to words of joy, encouragement, gladness, and exultation. We hear of God’s provision for His people. We are reassured that we share in love because God is among us. We also share in the wonderful gift of forgiveness and renewal. We follow John the Baptist’s admonition to repent before the coming of the Lord.

The events of this week in Newtown turn the message of rejoicing on its head. How can we rejoice? How can we be glad and exult? Faced with these words we turn to God with hearts and minds full of questions, maybe questions tinged with anger.

Philosophers and theologians have explanations for all this, but what good are explanations when our hearts are filled with sadness and grief? Can explanations help when our hearts are downcast and our minds fearful? What has happened? God, couldn’t you have intervened!?!

Then we consider our confession and repentance. We look at our sins, and we think, my sins are so small, so insignificant, so trifling. Why should I feel guilt and remorse for my small sins, to have to repent, when there is such serious evil and so much sickness in the world?

In a few days, the next ugly thing will happen. Some person, claiming to be Christian, will burst out with blame for one group or another, and say that God is purposefully punishing us.

We, who follow Jesus can be reassured that God’s peace surpasses our human understanding. Christ came to live among us, not just to appear and go back. He did not come to punish, but to bring healing and renewal. He is not just an antidote to evil, someone we can conjure up in hard and sad times, but the light that destroys evil.

In our confession and repentance we bear witness and re-align ourselves with right and truth. We stay on the right track and call the world to do the same. Renewed, we set out to be God’s light, bearing Christ with us. We bring love where there is little, joy where there is none, comfort where there is despair. Healing to the sick.

God has not left us abandoned and alone. He is intervening every day through us. This Sunday let our hearts take comfort and overcome. Stand up and rejoice in the face of despair and sadness because in the midst of horrible tragedy we will bear the light of Christ to the world – a light that no darkness can overcome.