Friday, December 14, 2012

Thoughts on the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

By the waters
The waters of Babylon
We lay down and wept
And wept for, thee Zion
We remember, thee remember
Thee remember, thee Zion

By the waters
The waters of Babylon
We lay down and wept
And wept for thee Zion
This morning's news of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut has taken us all by surprise. We have awakened in the midst of our preparations for the Holiday into a nightmare that reminds us of our vulnerability, and the vulnerability of our children. 
Rachel Weeps
As many of you know I have been leading a book study on Bonhoeffer's Christmas sermons.  During the taping of this third section I spoke on the nature of God's compassion for the most vulnerable.  Boenhoeffer's words are worth repeating today:
Again and again, when the people of God are in trouble and distress, tears flow.  So it was in the time of Rachel, the mother of the people of Israel, whose grave lies near to Bethlehem, Rachel weeping for all her children.  It was in the last days of Jerusalem before it feel to the Babylonians, when the prophet Jeremiah looked down upon the tragedy and wept....A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.  (Jeremiah 31:15)
What has taken place is a tragedy.  We all mourn the loss, and we mourn with these families affected.  The repercussions of this awful event will change us.  In fact they already have. 
Our hearts and our prayers are offered to all those affected.  Our diocesan staff stopped work at 1:00 today and offered prayer.  I would ask you to join our country, and indeed the world, in mourning these losses.   We should pray specifically for peace to be poured upon this town and the Sandy Hook Elementary School community.  As we weep with Rachel let us pray for a healing balm to be given to the children and parents.  For those who have died let us pray that they may rest eternally with the saints in light.  Let us pray for the first responders and for our Episcopal clergy who are already on the scene offering care and support.  Let God hear our lamentation, our intercession, and our hope.
Let us be mindful of the opportunity now before us to work towards a world that has no longer a place for hate, fear, and senseless acts of incomprehensible violence. 
I am aware of our own families here in Texas who dropped their children off today and will embrace them this afternoon.  The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has clergy and lay pastors in congregations all over the diocese who are ready to help all of those who feel in need of conversation and prayer in the wake of this disaster.
I have reprinted below resources for talking with children and the statement from our Episcopal brothers and sisters in Connecticut and invite your prayers for them as well.  Let us weep together. Let us mourn the lost. Let us pledge to work towards the loving kingdom of God that Christ Jesus envisions.  And, let us hope for our future and the future of the Sandy Hook community.
Faithfully yours,
C. Andrew Doyle

This is a comprehensive list of excellent resources compiled by Sharon Pearson and leading Christian educators for those of us needing guidance after Friday's tragic and senseless shooting. Most importantly, turn off the TV.

Statement from Diocese of Connecticut on Sandy Hook Shooting

The Connecticut Bishops released the following statement following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14:

Dear Friends in Christ:

We are shocked and overwhelmed by the horrendous tragedy of the school shooting in Sandy Hook. We hold the victims, their families, and all who are affected by the shooting in our thoughts and prayers for healing and strength. We pray that those who have died will be held in the arms of our loving God whose heart aches for those affected by this tragedy.
We bishops have been in touch with the Rev. Mark Moore, the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Sandy Hook which is adjacent to the school were the shooting took place. We have also communicated with the leadership of Trinity Church, Newtown, and we understand that the Rev. Kathie Adams-Shepherd, rector of Trinity Church is on the scene ministering to the bereaved.
We are departing immediately for Newtown/Sandy Hook to be of whatever assistance we can. We will be in contact when we have additional information.
We invite all clergy to open our churches for prayer.
Please keep all who have died, the one who has perpetrated the shooting, and all affected by this incident in your prayers. May the God who we await this Advent season bring us hope and new life in Jesus the Christ.

Faithfully, Ian, Laura and Jim
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens
The Rt. Rev. James E. Curry

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