Another Tragedy

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.

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)

What resources can you share?

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3 Responses to “Another Tragedy”

  1. […] Articles and Resources from Forma Members and Partners Tragedy: Prayers, Guidelines and Resources from the Episcopal Church Vocation and Formation Office Talking with Children about Tragedy by Tracy Herzer and Leader Resources Episcopal Relief and Development’s article about a prayerful response to the Connecticut shooting An article and additional links from “Building Faith” by Sharon Pearson […]

  2. […]      We need to respect that some parents may want to share more information with their children than others. Especially with the 5th/6th grade students this will be the case. If the youth want more information direct them to their parents: we are not there to give the information we are there to help them see how their faith can inform their coping. 3)    I would next ask what they think God feels/thinks about the shooting. This is hard because it will get into the question of “why God allows bad things to happen” but helping them to know that God remains loving and did not cause this will be vital. Relating it to the nativity: ie this is why God came to breathe new life into the broken places of the world… will be good. (This may likely be where your teens want to stop. They may want to just keep talking and that is okay, but engaging them in a creative activity for expression would also be a very healthy thing especially for those kids who are not verbal processors.) I know it is difficult even for us as adults to see where God is in all of this. I find the words of The Rev. Kathleen Adams Shepherd, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, CT helpful here. At the candlelight vigil yesterday evening said: “God was in the acts of love and bravery today.” God was in the principal who ran toward the gunman to shield the children. God was in the first responders who used their gifts from God to treat the injured. God is in the people around the world who cry in solidarity with the pain of those affected. God is present in the love. God is present in the tears. This is what Jesus went to the cross to save us from. In an interview granted by Robbie Parker, father of one of the victims, Mr. Parker said, “‘I’d like to offer our deepest condolences to all the families who were directly affected. It’s a horrific tragedy, and our hearts go out to them. This includes the family of the shooter, and I want you to know that our love and support go out to you as well.” Mr. Parker went on to say that he is not angry. Hurt and devastated, yes, but he knows the shooter had the same free will granted by God that he himself enjoys. He said it is tragic that the shooter used his freewill for such a horrific act, but that he plans to use his free will to love. The shooter was a human being created in God’s image. We would all do well to take a page from Mr. Parker’s book to remember that Adam (the accused shooter) was a son, brother, friend, and broken human being like us all. What he did was horrible. But those who loved him are grieving as well. Help the youth to know that demonizing the troubled young man who committed this crime may seem easier but it does not solve the hurt and confusion we feel. We are called to pray for him and his family as well. Love conquers death. We are an Easter people and we believe that God conquered the clutches of death in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  4)    As an activity, invite the youth to make cards or write letters/prayers for the children and teens at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, CT. Sending cards and letters is a hands-on way we can engage our faith and help our brothers and sisters in Christ as they cope with this tragedy. 5)    Close in prayer. It is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means “Rejoice.” It’s important that we end this lesson with the message of Easter promise and permission to go forward rejoicing in thanksgiving for all of the blessings God has given us as we prepare for the coming of the Christ child. Open the prayer and then pass it around the room so each youth has the opportunity to voice his or her prayers as well. Additional Resources:http://episcoforma.org/resources-for-dealing-with-tragedy/http://www.buildfaith.org/2012/12/15/another-tragedy/http://www.leaderresources.org/downloads/free_downloads/talking_about_violence.pdf […]

  3. […] piece I wrote for Building Faith, Another Tragedy, following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December […]

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