Friday, December 14, 2012

Pastoral Response (to parish) in wake of mass shooting in CT

I write you with tears in my eyes as I read the news reports of the mass shooting of children at the elementary school in Connecticut today. In this letter I have some recommendations, a personal reflection and prayers to be prayed. 


I urge you to turn off all news media this evening and tonight (until your children are deep in sleep). I urge you to take special time tonight to hug your children and reassure them that you love them and that they are safe. For elementary aged children this will be welcome.

For youth (teenagers) I urge you to talk to them, eye to eye, assure them of your love and God’s love.  Give them permission to talk … and keep your ears open all night. Accept that they may have a strong reaction to this tragedy or they may have no reaction at all. This is okay - teens react differently to death. Thoughtfully monitor what they are posting and how much time they are communicating on electronics. Talk to them about what they are posting and what they are texting. Reassure them of your love. Reassure them off God’s love.

Don’t try to give answers for why this person acted in this manner. Acts of evil rarely can be understood or explained. Do acknowledge with your child how hard it can be to not have answers. Bad things happen to good people. Be reassured: this act of evil is NOT an act of God.

Please don’t let fear drive your decisions and judgments. There is not a better time for the Light of Christ to alive in our hearts, our homes and in the world. Our parish family will be claiming this Light for the next three weeks, almost daily. We will be proclaiming our Hope to a broken world.

My personal response:

My first response was “May God have Mercy on those families and those poor children, those who have died and those who survived”.  My second response was to turn off the radio – quickly as Maya and Marcos bouncing towards me after a wonderful day of school, with excitement for the weekend and holidays events. Their innocence is gold to me. As father, I want to protect them always, and I know I would give my life to save their life.  My friends, in moments such as this, this is why I am a Christian. That is why I want my children to know God – to know Jesus. Jesus gave his life for you and your children. Amen and Alleluia.


First: Lord God, have mercy on the families, children, teachers, first responders who witnessed the aftermath of the shooting of the children and teachers today. Lord God have mercy on the children and teacher killed today – may their souls be in your tender hands this day. Lord God, help us reassure our own children of your love. Lord God, we are sad when reality shatters our desire for peace in the world, in our lives. Lord God, may the Prince of Peace you sent to the world once already, come again – quickly. Amen.

Second: I offer you the same prayer I sent you in mail today, from the third of verse of Away in a Manager: “Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay close by me forever, and love me I pray. Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.” Amen.


The Reverend Mark C. McKone-Sweet, Rector
Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church

PS: I give special thanks to our own educational leaders who helped edit this letter: Deb Reinemann & Gretchen Larkin

Worship this Sunday:
8am and 10am.
5pm Youth group.
6pm Advent Lessons and Carols.

Blue Christmas Service:
Tuesday night at 7pm.

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