Sharp About Your Prayers

the challenges, absurdities, and joys of an urban faith

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Sandy Hook

December 15th, 2012 · 2 Comments · Faith and the City

Newtown, CTMy head hurts.  I spent yesterday afternoon sitting at my desk sobbing.  I know you are devastated too.  The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has shaken everyone.  The world feels like a terrible, terrible place.

Our prayers go forth for the people of Newtown.

Although, in the face of these pictures, I sputter when praying.  I stop and start mid-sentence.  What do you say to God?  “Why?”  “Jesus, hold them tight.”   “Somehow, Holy One, bring comfort to the inconsolable.”

Words are hard to find.

The testimony of scripture is that God understands when our hearts are shattered and when we can’t put two words together.  As the Apostle Paul puts it, at times like this, “the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”

And when we do cry and sigh on a day like this, I firmly believe that Christ sits down and weeps right alongside of us.

I also believe that when tragedies happen, the role of the church is not business as usual.  Instead, our responsibility is to confront these evil acts and salve this deep sadness with the one thing that Christ entrusts to all of his disciples—the Gospel.

This Sunday we will do exactly that.

As you know, this Sunday is Pageant Sunday.  We are going to have our Pageant.  Our precious children are going to lead us in worship at both 9:30 and 11:00 AM.  Their high-pitched voices are going to sing to us of deep truths.  They are going to tell us the story of Christmas.  And we are going to support them, surround them with our love, and celebrate their amazing faith.

After they finish singing, our little lambs are going to head downstairs to have snacks and frolic.  Upstairs, we are going to talk candidly about the original setting for the Nativity.  Friends, it was a brutal world that Mary and Joseph were navigating.

The enduring power of Christmas is that God does not shy away from awful circumstances and dark corners.  Instead, the message of Christmas is that God comes to a messed up planet that desperately, desperately needs the Prince of Peace.

This One, who enters into our lives, even (or especially) when we are sobbing at our keyboards, is the One we journey toward this Advent.  This is the only One deserving of our worship and praise.

And that’s what we will do Sunday.

See you in worship,


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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Richard JordanNo Gravatar

    Hi, Scott, You don’t know me, I was a member of Calvary/St. George’s congregation as thurifer and verger for over 30 years, and have done a variety of work in my life, much stemming from a year of graduate work in Latin and Greek at the U. of Minnesota (I see you are from Duluth, my next door neighbor in Centennial Hall at the U. was from Alabama, Duncan Hohen, with relatives there, and I spent many weekends in Duluth, 1 mile wide and 30 miles long). As I was walking along Fifth Ave. to where I live on Central Park South after Eucharist at St. Bart’s, I stopped suddenly as I heard the choristers on the steps, suddenly recalling that on 3 Sundays, there would be caroling. A tall young woman looking very chilled pointed to the cups in her hand and said “Cider?” I shook my head in the affirmative and was happy to have something warm. Singers kept singing, many folks just passed by, but throughout the young woman very consistently offered the invitation. Having been in St. Patrick’s last night, I thought to myself there might be 2 types of people, those inside and those outside to whom the invitation is constantly made by Christ to “Come and see.” Seeing that the young woman was drinking cider as well as offering it — what else would she do — I offered to hold my umbrella over her as she poured libations. She said she was fine (I doubted it, she had on what I would term a veritable igloo or yurt that would be able to withstand any stormy blast). But I was struck by her constancy in a smiling invitation to partake of refreshment on a day when we all need some type of healing. While high church is my style, I do recall an attorney for whom I once served as a legal proofreader at Sidley & Austin, Ted Theophilus, who one day went to 5th Ave. Presbyterian “on a whim” and met a Greek woman to whom he eventually was married (2 Greeks = 800 guest wedding in Chicago). I might come to the early Christmas service on the 24th, simply because I must be at St. Mary the Virgin to hear my dear friend, former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Frank Griswold, preach at 11 PM. Any church where someone will endure cold while serving hospitality, such as this young woman did, must be doing something right. On Friday, please remember in prayer Fr. Tom Pike, former Rector of Calvary/St. George’s, who celebrates the 50th Anniversary of his ordination (8 AM Mass at St. Thomas Fifth Ave., where he is an Honorary Curate). By the way, I know Fr. Clare McPherson from a year I spent at Transfiguration. Blessings to you and your congregation, if you want to know someone who has TOTAL recall of every pitch of every baseball game he ever saw, please consider being a facebook friend of George Werner, former Dean of the Cathedral in Pittsburgh. Baseball, football, any ball, George is incredible!
    Richard Jordan (global strategist at the UN for many non-governmental organizations, religious and secular journalist, and many other hats). Pierre Whalon, Bishop of the Convocation of the Churches in Europe, also writes a fine blog, yours is also quite interesting. Glad I found it. Just wanted to share reflections on passing by FAPC.

  • Laura FissingerNo Gravatar

    I feel especially called to pray for the children who saw death and dying on that day in Newtown. If they need some kind of therapy as children, teens or adults, may God lead them to the right counselors and great healing. I also pray for the traumatized first responders. My training as a mental health peer counselor is three weeks from being complete; perhaps I will be blessed enough to help these people who now reside in my spirit.