There's something particularly tragic whenever a child dies, no matter how the child dies. A bombing in Syria. A flood in Peru. A famine in the Sudan. A shooting in Connecticut. It's entirely appropriate that these deaths unsettle us.
In times like these, I draw some small measure of comfort from the passage in Luke 18 where Jesus welcomes the children. The disciples try to keep the children away, telling their parents not to bother the Teacher. But Jesus welcomes the children, interacts with them, makes time for them.
Our world has ways of rejecting children. We see the ultimate rejection of children when we're faced with the tragic death of a child. The world darkened by evil rejects children.
And yet, this rejection is not the final word. Into a world that rejects children (with bullets at times), God came as a child. God of all gods, a man among men. He accepted childhood for himself, endured rejection, so that he could welcome children. And this God challenges us as individuals and as a society to receive children.
But know this: when we refuse to receive children, we do not get the last say.
God is always ready to receive children. The children who died under the world's rejection today also, on this same day, experienced the welcome of the Lord.
So, we grieve and mourn but also hope. Perhaps the God who received these children will also one day welcome us. Perhaps the power that overcame the world's rejection will one day affect the world's transformation. Perhaps the tears that fill our eyes will one day be wiped away.
But, until that day, let us always be ready to receive children. And let us encourage others to go and do likewise. And, in so doing, perhaps we will encounter the God who became a Christmas child.