Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In this Advent season of longing and hope, we are mindful that there are many who today long for peace and healing, and for whom hope seems distant. As we grieve with those in Newtown, Connecticut and pray God's peace and consolation for the pain of their loss, I encourage you to raise up the entire community of Newtown and all those touched by this tragedy in the prayers of your communities of faith this weekend.
I also share with you these words from Jim Hazelwood, Bishop of the New England Synod:
"O God, your beloved Son took children into his arms and blessed them. Give us grace, we pray, that we may entrust these little ones along with their teachers to your never failing care and love, and bring us all in your heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
"And now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken hold of me. The night racks my bones, and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest." (Job 30:16)
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest." (Psalm 22:1)
"Jesus began to weep." (John 11:35)
There are no words available to me to adequately express the loss and sorrow I feel over this tragedy in Connecticut. It may be the season of Advent, but it feels like the morning after Good Friday, before anyone realized the word "Good" could be added.
Our hearts are broken for the parents, siblings, family, coworkers, first responders, ministers and residents surrounding the Newtown, Connecticut community. We pray, indeed. But, this morning my prayer is more deep sigh, than eloquent words.
From across the country, and from our partners around the world, we are receiving offers of assistance, promises of prayer, expressions of a desire to help and be with us. One congregation from Colorado, who lived through the Columbine shootings of 1999, called us to offer financial support, many of my colleagues in the Conference of Bishops as well as clergy from their synods have sent prayers, and offers to help.
Although, no family (to my knowledge) from any of our congregations lost anyone in this tragedy, there are still many in the area who know someone or simply by virtue of living in the are are impacted. We have at least two members from area congregations who had either a child or grandchild who attended the school, but were unharmed.
If any of you wish to communicate with the congregations closest to Newtown, CT you my write them, if you wish:
Prince of Peace Lutheran
P.O. Box 5184
119 Junction Road
Brookfield, CT 06804
Pastors Mark Nordskog & Amanda Warner
St. James Lutheran Church
111 Peter Road
Southbury, CT 06488
Pastor Scott Nessel
In addition, these congregations have a connection to this incident through family or friends in their congregation or daycare/preschool programs:
150 Chapel St.
Stratford, CT 06614
Pastor Cathy Rohrs
3160 Park Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Pastor Marjo Anderson
25 Great Hill Road
Oxford, CT 08478
Pastor Bruce Steinway
There is a time for compassion, and a time for outrage. I'm experiencing both simultaneously. Suddenly, the day of the holy innocents has been brought to life, sadly, in our time once again.
Bishop Jim Hazelwood
New England Synod - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
As you light another candle this weekend, may its light push back the shadows of violence, hatred and grief; and may your Advent waiting be blessed by Christ's presence and peace.
Yours in His love,