The Longest Night / The Tragedy at Sandy Hook

The Longest Night / The Tragedy at Sandy Hook

12/20/2012

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)

Dear Friends,

An unspeakable tragedy has befallen our state, our district, and our own United Methodist Church in Newtown.  A gunman took from us the lives of 20 children and 6 adults when he entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday.  Am I overstating it when I lament that we will never be the same?

Among the countless conversations I have had with God this week are ones where I have thanked Him for putting in place, for such a time as this, a trio of clergy at Newtown UMC who simply could not be more caring and compassionate and empathetic. Using the gifts with which God has so richly blessed them, Mel Kawakami, Jane Sibley and Sue Klein have been able to offer grace, comfort, hope, and promise to the friends and families of those who were lost on that terrible day.  Even in the midst of their own grief, these ministers each remain a beacon of light and love for those walking through the valley of the shadow of death. 

As your District Superintendent, I have received innumerable expressions of love and support for all of you.  The response has been, in a word, overwhelming.  United Methodists from as far away as the Czech Republic have offered their condolences and prayers to us, and their words of sympathy and faith have been echoed by the ecumenical community all across this country.   But it has been you – the laity and clergy from our own district – who have been the most generous this past week, opening your broken hearts and sanctuary doors for services of remembrance and prayer vigils.  Rest assured, beloved, whatever we are going through, we are not going through it alone.

But in all honesty, together or not, this has been the longest week.  Darkness has overtaken our land.   And tonight, scientists tell us, will be the longest night of the year as we observe the winter solstice.  That’s the bad news.  The Good News, however, is that starting tomorrow, the daylight hours will begin lengthening again. Day by day, week by week, and month by month, our days will be brighter for longer.  It might only be incremental, but over time, it will be undeniable.  God is good!

In celebration of that, and in remembrance of the loss of life at Sandy Hook elementary school, let us join with all the state by ringing the bells of our churches at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow. 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:5)