I don’t know Janet Vollmer. I’ve never seen her face or spoken to her or heard her voice. All I know about her is what I read on the CNN website on Saturday. But those two sentences were enough.
Janet is a kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary. When she heard the “pop pop pop” of rapid gunfire and the chaos outside her classroom on Friday morning, she pulled the blinds, locked the door and hurried her kids to the back of the room. “We’re going over in a safe area,” she told the 19 five-year-olds in her class.
And when she had them settled on the floor, crowded against the back wall, Janet did something incredibly smart, courageous and compassionate. She opened a book and began to read a story aloud to her students, as bullets ricocheted and women and children died just beyond the door.
I don’t know what religion Janet practices or whether she goes to church or prays or even if she believes in God or not. But I do know this. Jesus was in that kindergarten classroom, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Amid terror and bloodshed, as horror beyond comprehension swept down the hallway and into the neighboring classrooms, Jesus was present. He was in Janet Vollmer, as she calmly read a storybook in the middle of an apocalypse. While darkness descended across the threshold, Jesus was in Janet, the voice of comfort, security and love.
I had originally written a different post for today, but after Friday’s tragedy and our worship service on Sunday, in which Pastor Greg preached about the power and presence of Jesus’ light, even amid darkness, Janet Vollmer’s story struck me deeply.
I’ll leave you with the lyrics we sang on Sunday through tears, these verses from “Awake, Awake and Greet the New Morn.” They brought some comfort to me, and I pray they do the same for you:
To us, to all in sorrow and fear,
Emmanuel comes a-singing,
his humble song is quiet and near,
yet fills the earth with its ringing;
music to heal the broken soul
and hymns of loving kindness,
the thunder of his anthems roll
to shatter all hatred and blindness.
Rejoice, rejoice, take heart in the night,
though dark the winter and cheerless,
the rising sun shall crown you with light,
be strong and loving and fearless.
Love be our song and love our prayer
and love our endless story;
may God fill every day we share and
bring us at last into glory.
Linking up with Emily’s Tuesdays Unwrapped, because even though I don’t know her, Janet Vollmer’s courage was a gift to me in this time of grief.
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