December 15, 2012: A Letter from Pastor Chris Kliesen Wehrman
(In response the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012)
Return to PPUMC Home page
Morning comes with so many people sharing reactions to yesterday's horror:
The prevalence of violence that has become so ubiquitous we feed it even to our youngest and loved children.
The fear of mental illness and the ignorance and lack of resource that piles up around it, as it feeds our prison systems and homeless population.
The system of gun laws we have in place that make the acquisition of a personal arsenal legal, as it has been in the overwhelming majority of public-place murders in the last 30 years in America, including the Connecticut shootings yesterday.
And the fact that, while this particular shooting is a shocking and specific horror, it is in some ways a reminder that untimely deaths from sustained systems of "quiet violence" occur by the hundreds of thousands each day on our planet as basic necessities and safety are denied so many - children included and especially.
As one said to me, simply, "Shame on us." Ouch. Even us, who try so consistently to be present as the hands and heart of God.
What are we as Christians - as believers in peace and love and freedom and justice and equality and life and sacredness - to do?
Today we prepare the Christmas Pageant at church. Tomorrow we invite all to a worship service where we will come together to see our youth tell a story of love and generosity to our children. Then to see our children enact the story of the Nativity - in which donkeys rolic, sheep talk, and eventually there is found room in the inn for the miraculously safe birth of a helpless infant. Magi and shepherds share the room while an astrological event marks the sky.
We will sing and laugh together. And treasure each other. And, God willing, welcome guests. And love our children. And teach them stories about love and peace - as they, themselves, teach us the stories. Together we will sing a lullabye: Away in a Manger. We will sing: Joy to the World.
Are we foolish? Or are these all declarations of what we honestly believe - that there is another Way that offers salvation from violence, hatred, greed, and pain? The fragile beauty of what we feel as we listen to our precious children sing, echoes in our own day, in our own lives, the center of the story we remember at this time of year (that we know all people on our planet feel in the presence of their children): It is exactly the vulnerability of Holy God present in a newborn child nestled in the hay of a barn off an alley that causes us to fall to our knees in wonder and prayer. Our hearts open with yearning in the presence of the truth: that our world is in fact the arena in which we are called to raise up that child, to bring to maturity the incarnation of holiness.
We say it over and over, and sing it: Jesus the light of the world, walk in the light, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. We light lanterns and say they remind us of Peace, Hope, Love...and then we pray that we be like those lanterns in the world.
That is who we are. And the powerful truth of being a community is that when the winds of the storm snuff my flame for this hour, one of yours will burn bright until my light returns, and I will hold flame for you sometimes, too. Together we preserve the light. That's what it means to love each other in community. To be base camp. Even though, right now the world feels especially stormy.
I've attached a liturgy provided on a United Methodist website as a resource (see link below). I have found it helpful as a personal prayer.
Click to download a PDF copy of "Litany for a Great Tragedy" by Rev. David Hicks
Wild and tender blessings to us all,
Return to PPUMC Home page
||Send e-mail to Prospect Park UMC (ProspectParkUMC@gmail.com)|
Last modified: Dec 15, 2012 -- JO