3 Christmas commitments in response to Sandy Hook

Have you wondered how in the world you can go on celebrating Christmas when so many people are grieving? Me too.

Here are my 3 commitments in regards to Christmas as I remember and reflect on Sandy Hook.

Celebrate with no guilt

Is it even possible to weep with those who weep in the wake of tragedy, and still have a joyful Christmas? The simple answer is yes. It is the ability of humans to be able to have multiple emotions at one time. Because we are created in God’s image, we are capable of having intense grief and pain while at the same time having happiness and joy.

In fact, I suspect that the families walking through this tragedy are experiencing this. Even while they are in suffering, pain, and sorrow, they will no doubt be reflecting with a smile on a particular memory of the child and an event that brings joy.

Thankfully, God does not require us to have only one emotion at a time. I am committed to using this tragedy not to feel guilty about celebrating with my own family, but to bring perspective to my celebrations.

And while I celebrate the unspeakable joy of having my family with me around Christmas dinner, I will intentionally take some time to stop and reflect, pray for, and weep for those that are missing someone around their Christmas dinner table.

Tragedy brings perspective.

Focus on relationships over details

It’s easy in this time of year to get caught up in how many dozens of cookies we’ve made, how many presents we still need to buy, and how many things we need to do before we can have a Christmas that meets our standard. But Sandy Hook reminds me that relationships are far more important than any details surrounding the holidays.

My pie may be soupy, the rolls my be overcooked, the presents not up to standard, the surprise found out, the gingerbread house not made, but if my relationships are being nurtured, then it has been a wonderful Christmas.

It also reminds me that all those things may be done to perfection. But if I did it while trampling over the emotional and spiritual needs of my family, there is no joy in them.

Tragedy brings perspective.

Be grateful for my Savior.

We celebrate the birth of our Savior this season and I believe that now, more than ever, I am deeply grateful for His coming. Of course, sin is always present. We daily see the effects of sin in our own lives, and in the world around us.

But sin in its most grotesque and unimaginable way has clouded our Christmas. And the darker the place, the brighter the Light shines.

This season I have cause to rejoice, perhaps more than I have ever done before, in the coming of my Savior, because I feel so keenly the sin that covers this world and my own life, and the grace that God has shown me through His Son.

In the words of a child’s book,¬† Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones:

All the stars joined together in a chorus that rang out through the heavens…The Bright and Morning Star!”

And on a hillside overlooking a little town sheep nuzzled their new lambs…“The Good Shepherd!”

And in the little town in a little shed in a little window a candle flickered in the dark.

And a tiny cry rang out in the cold night air.

And high above a single star set in the highest heavens shone out brighter than all the others and poured down silver onto the little shed…

“A Light to light up the whole world!”

Is there ever a time when we have felt the need for a gentle, good shepherd like we do this season?

And is there ever a time when we have felt so acutely the need for the brightness of the Light?

Tragedy brings perspective.

So this Christmas I will celebrate with no guilt, while still weeping with my neighbors. I will treasure  and nurture the people and relationships around me. And I will rejoice more than ever in the birth of my Savior, the Light of the world.

Will you make this commitment with me?


  1. This brought tears to my eyes. But they do come easily these days, don’t they? More than once my throat tightens when I watch my children playing around the tree, and I think of the mommies with empty arms. Thanks for putting it into perspective. Truly, the Light shines brightest when the darkness is more intense and opressive.

  2. Beautiful.

  3. Robin Griffin says:

    So well said, Johanna. Thank you.

  4. Beautifully written. Amen for each of the commitments, and, yes I’m making them with you! I also love Song of the Stars…thank you, Jesus, for being our Light that lights up the whole world.


  1. […] just last year and is a beautiful poem reflecting the birth of Christ. I briefly mentioned it in my Christmas commitments post. I also really love the illustrations by Alison Jay. They are beautiful and definitely enhance […]

Speak Your Mind