Until the Son of God Appears

An Update on the Sandy Hook Tragedy

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appears. 

Ransom all who are captive here, Lord.  For we seem to be imprisoned in a compassion-deprived society. Confined by our own inability and unwillingness to communicate.  Captive to our own needs and desires, to the exclusion of others’.  Prone to violent acts instead of compassionate conversation and connection.  We no longer know how to pay attention; we barely know our neighbors.

How can we love our neighbors as ourselves if we no longer even know them…?  How can we reach out to those who are in terrible need of our attentiveness and our compassion?  Everyone needs someone to believe in them!  How might we embrace in love those who might otherwise commit such senseless and inhumane acts---before tragedy occurs?

O God, our God, we are in desperate lonely exile here.  We are in exile from ourselves, our neighbors near and far, from our communities, and from our capacity to converse with one another.  Our hearts are now in exile after the vicious exile of 27 unsuspecting, innocent lives.

O come, O come, Emmanuel.  Come and save us.  Jesus, save us.

How do we celebrate Christmas after such senseless violence? After innocent children’s lives were senselessly taken?  After selfless adult lives, those who gave their very lives for the sake of children, how do we now turn to Christmas?  How do families in Newtown, Connecticut gather around the tree, or the table, and somehow—somehow—celebrate what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year?

Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to Thee, O Israel.

But how can there be any joy after what we have witnessed at Sandy Hook Elementary School…?

Sometimes there are just no words.  No answers to our questions.  No joy because the anguish is just too deep.

In the face of the unfathomable, we find ourselves in shock and grief.  Outraged.  Confused.  Left with no other recourse than lament.

Lament we shall:   For the children of Sandy Hook who became all of our children.  And for those who taught and cared for and mentored them who also witnessed the unexplainable.  For their parents and siblings and families who are now in the depths of despair.  We weep and wail and question God; hear now our lamentations…

For if ever we needed peace, we need it now.  O come, O come, Emmanuel, and be with us. Really with us. For we are in such shock that many of us do not feel Your presence.  We need, Lord, to feel You, and to be comforted with a holy and heavenly embrace.  For we need peace. Now.

While the joy of Christmas may elude many of us this year as we find ourselves joining Rachel who wept and refused to be consoled at the loss of her children, we embody Advent.  Our longing is even more poignant—palpable, even, as we cry out for peace.

O come, O come, Emmanuel, for we cannot do this ourselves.  We need a Savior.  Come, Jesus, come, and save us!  Save us from violence. Save us from gutlessness. Save us from ourselves. Save us from our sins.

O come, thou Wisdom who comes from on high, and order all things, far and nigh; to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go.

Need we any more evidence that we downright need a Savior? We need to be redeemed!  O come, O come Jesus the Christ.  For it is You and You alone who is Our Peace. It is You and You alone who has shown us the ways of peace and nonviolence, how to be conduits of peace, and how to create peace in this mad world.

Hear now our pleas for peace:  Peace in Newtown.  Peace for our children.  Peace in the greater Danbury metropolitan area. Peace in our homes.  Peace across Connecticut.  Peace in our schools.  Peace in America. Peace in our families.  Peace on earth.  Peace in our hearts.  Peace now.  Peace on earth…

O come, Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all humankind; bid thou our sad divisions cease; and be Thyself our King of Peace.

As a response to the horrific and senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday, Week of Compassion has sent a solidarity grant to our very own Central Christian Church in Danbury, CT [http://www.centralchristianchurchdanbury.com/].  The Rev. Dr. Anne Coffman, pastor of Central Christian, has been intimately involved in the post-crisis interventions.  Through close partner organization Family and Children’s Aid of Danbury, CT, which is housed at Central Christian Church, Week of Compassion has purchased copies of the children’s book, A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes.  We have also provided funds for play therapy and trauma counseling as needs arise among the community.  Family and Children’s Aid [http://www.fcaweb.org/index.html] of Danbury is one of the leading agencies in the state for caring for traumatized and abused children.  They were the first on the scene at Sandy Hook School.

In addition to A Terrible Thing Happened, bereavement counselors also recommend the book, Water Bugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney as an aid in helping children understand death and dying.  For parents to engage in constructive conversation with your children about the recent school shootings we recommend this link from our ecumenical colleagues:  [http://www.northalabamaumc.org/pages/detail/1173].

Donations are welcome as we continue to reach out to this community.  Long after the initial shock the long road to recovery and healing begins.  Please designate all gifts specifically for “Sandy Hook” and we will direct them accordingly.  We also ask for prayers for our own congregation, Central Christian, as they minister to their wider community. While no one was directly affected in our church, they are all deeply impacted by this tragedy.  They are a people of profound faith—even at a time like this.

It is indeed Advent.  It is not merely symbolic.  We are in waiting.  Crying out for peace, for Christ to come.  For Peace to burst forth into this world like never before.

So come, all you who are faithful.  Become that peace as we wait for Peace Incarnate.

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appears.

Come all you who are faithful.  For God is a merciful God who sends us Peace.  Come…until the very Son of God appears.