The following letter was shared with the Trinity congregation on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Dear Trinity Church Friends,
Numbness…sadness…anger…disbelief… We were all struck with a variety of emotions yesterday when we heard the word from Connecticut. Flashbacks to Aurora and Columbine…heartbreak as we learned the number and ages of the dead…tears for children – victims and survivors traumatized by an unspeakable tragedy in a season of such excitement and fun for little ones.
As we lament this great loss, we pray for all families with children. We seek to be a listening, compassionate presence. We process our own emotions and our thoughts on mental health challenges, the wide availability of automatic weapons, and the violence of our culture.
As people of faith, we respond with hope in the face of horror, trust in the face of tragedy, and grace in the face of grief. Such difficult times remind us:
- Life is fragile and unpredictable, and therefore precious.
- God weeps with us and cares for us in our losses.
- Moral evil is the tragic implication of a free world.
- There is a lot we don’t know about this event at this time.
- We need each other – community is good and vital to our well-being.
- Children are precious to Jesus (Matthew 18:1-4, 19:13-15).
Tomorrow we will gather in the house of God as the people of God to worship God. We will bring our tears and fears, and also our hope and faith. It is the Third Sunday of Advent, the day we light the pink candle of joy. The Chancel Choir will bless us with “Joy to the World, A Festival of Carols.” God will speak to our sorrow with songs.The Bible tells the tale of the murder of all young children in and around Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus. This tragic event is known as the “slaughter of the innocents.” What happened yesterday in Newtown is no less than the same.
How shall we respond to this latest incident in this holy season? Before I led the choir in prayer this morning before their final rehearsal for tomorrow’s services, Judith shared a quote from Leonard Bernstein. The Jewish musician said, “This shall be our response to violence. We shall make music more passionately, more devotedly, more intently than ever.”
Indeed, we shall. God spoke through the prophet,“Comfort, comfort, my people.” We need that comfort now as never before.