No joy on the third Sunday of Advent.
Yet another massacre of innocents, the killings of twenty kindergarten children at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
This has become a much too common experience for us, yet we are numb with shock and grief.
Sunday is Advent 3, when many churches will have families and children assist in lighting the third Advent candle of Joy. Perhaps you will want to keep that candle dark and extinguished this year, and light instead a Candle of Remembrance and Grief.
Yes, I know that the light has overcome the darkness. But in the immediate aftermath of this unspeakable horror, to talk about joy and light is not only bad therapy, but it's bad theology. Sometimes, pastors must be less concerned about standing on a theological point, and more willing to sit with the grieving in their darkness. Now is such a time.
To that end, we offer the following as a prayer.
Our prayers go out to you as pastors and preachers, as you offer up prayers, counsel and comfort on this Sunday of Sorrow.
A Prayer for Comfort
Hear the cries of your joyless, sorrowful people.
Our prayers go out to the families of Newtown and
Sandy Hook Elementary School who have experienced
We come to you now with heavy hearts
and in deep sorrow.
There is no joy on this Advent Sunday of joy,
This was a slaughter of innocents,
Twenty kindergarten children, perhaps scribbling
Christmas cards in crayon for their parents—gunned down.
The parents--They’re burdened now with unfathomable grief.
Their pain and numbness must be beyond words and thoughts.
We cry out and ask WHY God,
WHY this carnage at Christmas?
As we celebrate a child born in Bethlehem,
The lives of children scarcely out of the cradle
are snuffed out and gone forever except in our hearts.
With the prophet of old we cry out,
“Oh that my head were a spring of water
And my eyes a fountain of tears!
I would weep day and night for the slain of my people…
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Why then is there no healing
For the wound of my people?”
We do not understand.
We plead with you for answers.
Until we hear from you O God, we cannot light a candle of joy,
We light instead a candle of Remembrance, a candle of Grief and Sorrow,
And we remember that You weep with us.
In the weeping and mourning, may we feel Your Eternal Presence,
and may we know Your Comforting Spirit covering us as a warm blanket of peace.
In the name of Jesus Christ, who suffered for us
And who now suffers with us.