by Sharon Ely Pearson
“Thus says the Lord: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” Jeremiah 31:15
It has happened again. The unthinkable and a parent’s worse nightmare. Senseless killing and the lost of innocent lives. As I write this Friday evening to be posted in the morning, I am aware of many of my friends and colleagues gathered in Newtown, Connecticut gathered in prayer at church just thirty or so miles from me. Social media has ben buzzing all day, sharing resources, asking why, and offering prayers. Numerous people have asked me to share the resources I have gathered in the past, so I will post the links to many of them here again. Beginning with 9/11, then Virginia Tech (plus some natural disasters), pastoral responses are sought after. What do we tell our children? Where was God? Where should we turn? How can we help?
For an immediate response to inquiries, below is a listing of items I have gathered in the past, plus a few that have surfaced today. All of them have a commonality – listen, turn off the news (TV, radio and internet), don’t feel like you need to have an answer, be present. In the days to come I’m sure new resources will become available. In the meantime, listening and prayer is what will sustain us.
- Families and Grief includes links to my Pinterest boards of books for children in times of grief and pastoral care resources for congregations, including parents
- Ministering in a Torn World (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) – compiled after 9/11
- Dealing with Grief – What to Say and What NOT to say (from the Huffington Post)
- Helping Children Cope with Traumatic Events
- And Mr. Rogers lives on with his wise words. (The Fred Rogers Company)
- Tips for Parents and Teachers to help their children and youth cope in times of tragedy (from Episcopal Relief & Development)
- Fearful Symmetry and the Silence of God – a theological reflection from the Rev. Robert Hendrickson of Christ Church, New Haven, CT.
- From the General Board of Discipleship (Methodist Church) – prayers and hymns
- Episcopal Health Ministries offers suggestions, especially in terms of violence responses
- Tracey Herzer of LeaderResources shares this downloadable for parents.
- Talking with kids about the news from PBS.
- A compilation of resources from Forma, the organization of Episcopal Christian formation leaders
- Teaching Tolerance offers advice to teachers who will be returning to classes on Monday. This might be helpful for churches too.
The Reverend Kathleen Adams Shepherd, rector, offered these words at a candlelight service at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown this evening, “God was in the acts of love and bravery today.”
O God, whose beloved Son took children into his arms and blessed them: Give us grace to entrust the children of Newtown, and all others killed on this day of sorrow, to your never-failing care and love, and bring us all to your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Adapted by the Rt. Rev. James Mathes, Diocese of San Diego, from “The Burial of a Child”, The Book of Common Prayer, p. 494)