Eight students and two teachers were killed at Santa Fe High School last Friday morning.  The suspect was taken into custody.  And once again, the country is grappling with yet another school massacre.  Explanations are coming forward.  Some blame video games.  Some say it’s the violent culture we live in. The shooter’s father says bullying is what made his son crack. Will we ever know for sure?

Whatever the driving force behind last Friday’s murders, I cannot accept that such a horrific scene is a “new normal.”  There is nothing normal about going to school and hearing gun shots fired.  There is nothing normal about seeing your teacher shot to death on the classroom floor. There is nothing normal about seeing your classmates die before your eyes.  There is nothing normal about planning the funeral for a 17 year old. There is nothing normal about life ending in such a senseless way.  As a pastor and a father and a grandfather, my heart goes out to the Santa Fe community. I hurt for the parents, grandparents, and siblings of the victims.  For the teachers and administrators.  For the first responders.  For the bus drivers.  For next door neighbors.  For Sunday school teachers. Even for the shooter and his family.  I am in such shock that this has happened again.  But this time, it’s my backyard.  This time it’s closer to home.  Like you, perhaps, words do not come easily to express the pain and dismay.

While it doesn’t make the grief go away, nonetheless, I am comforted in the words by Paul to the Romans:

“Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things nor powers or height or depth , or any other thing that is created. (Rom. 8:35, 38-39)”

The only normal I will accept is that even in such times of heavy tragedy, God is present with us.