Saturday, December 15, 2012

Praying for Families and Victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge.... In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears." (Psalm 18:2 & 6)

(On Sunday, December 16 during worship I prayed a Pastoral prayer based on the following…)

Lord, we sing joyful Christmas songs, but our hearts are broken -- pierced by grief over the tragedy in Newtown, CT. And while our secularized, happy-go-lucky merry Christmas celebrations have no words to address and respond to such senseless tragedy, the actual Christmas story of the Bible does -- an example of where the true Christmas story is more powerful than the watered down version that most of us celebrate in our culture today.

The true Christmas story of scripture reminds us that a similar tragedy occurred that first Christmas nearly 2000 years ago, when King Herod ordered the senseless slaughter of innocent children in Bethlehem, as well, in his attempt to kill the future Messiah (Read Matthew 2:16-18). And there, the words of the prophet Jeremiah (quoted by the gospel writer Matthew) could well be the words of mothers and parents in Newtown this Christmas, as well: "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more" (Matthew 2:18).

And so, as we celebrate the holiday this season, help us remember that Christmas is not an escape from life, reality, tragedy, or challenge, but a poignant affirmation of the hope that it brings for a better world -- that in the midst of challenge and hurt was born one who is the Comforter and Healer of all; that in the midst of despair was born one is the Hope of the world; and that in the midst of violence was born one who is the Prince of Peace.

So, O God, when tragedy strikes our homes, communities and families, help us to face the day with hope and trust that your love with prevail in the end, even when senseless human choices lead to extreme pain and hurt. Give us courage to face the future unafraid, despite the awful circumstances and situations around us. In the name of your son Jesus, born to be our Prince of Peace, Amen.

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