This morning we gather as we do every Sunday but today we gather together in pain and sorrow. We may be angry, fearful, and feel as if the darkness has overcome the light. We have so many questions and too few answers. The events of Friday are so close, we are in the midst of an uncomfortable grief, feeling shell shocked by what has taken place just 9 miles from here.
Let us pause & remember: These children were our children. These families are our families. There are no words to explain the littlest angels ripped from their families, there is only deep sadness that we share with neighbors who have had the unthinkable happen to them, and a deep, deep gratitude for our own families. But we who are gathered here know that when all seems lost, God finds a way. We who are gathered here know that when our world is shaken, God is steady.
As I sat and watched the images on Friday, I grieved, I looked for hope in that darkness. I saw it in all the faces of those helping out, even through the tears and sorrow. As I reached for words to guide me, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King in his Eulogy for the Martyred Children from 1963 helped me in my distress.
Dr. King said: “In spite of the darkness of this hour, we must not despair. I hope you can find some consolation from Christianity's affirmation that death is not the end. Death is not a period that ends the great sentence of life, but a comma that punctuates it to more lofty significance. Death is not a blind alley that leads the human race into a state of nothingness, but an open door which leads man into life eternal. Let this daring faith, this great invincible surmise, be your sustaining power during these trying days.As we sit in the desolate valley, let this daring faith, be your sustaining power during these trying days. And let us pray for the victims & for ourselves:
Now I say to you in conclusion, life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and difficult moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of the river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. And if one will hold on, one [he] will discover that God walks with him and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace.”
Almighty God, giver of light and life, in whose hands are both the living and the dead: We offer to you our sorrow and confusion in the face of the cruel deaths of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As you were present in the midst of the gunfire and chaos, so we trust you are present now with those who have died. Receive them into the arms of your mercy and cover them with your love. In your boundless compassion, console all who mourn, especially parents and family members, and give to us who carry on such a lively sense of your righteous will that we will not rest until our country is safe for all your children. All this we pray in sighs too deep for words and in the name of the lover and protector of our souls, Jesus Christ. Amen.