Visit our new site at revgalblogpals.org.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

11th Hour Preacher Party: It's the Pink Candle Edition

Third of AdventHello again!  It seems like we were just here ... because we were!

Thanks to everyone for gathering yesterday here, and on Twitter, and in the RevGalBlogPal Facebook group.  It was good to be together and to share ideas and all those feelings and the questions.

We start off our Saturday party gratefully feasting off what was served up yesterday:

Thank you, Dr. Wil Gafney, for hosting a chat on Twitter to help preachers figure out what to preach and how to approach the scriptures.  Look for the archive at hashtag: #what2preach.  The chat was cross-posted on the Facebook group and on yesterday's Preacher Party.  You can follow Wil on Twitter at @WilGafney.

Thank you, Amy Peden Haynie, for posting the Twitter chat in our Facebook group. In addition to the re-cap of the Twitter conversation, there are a lot of comments and some links, even prayers, in the posts and threads. If you would like to join the RevGalBlogPals Facebook group, please go over there and let us know.

And I encourage you to take a trip back through yesterday's 11th Hour Preacher Party early edition. RevGals were generous with their thoughts, prayers, resources, and ideas.  At the end of the blog post, before the comments, there is a list of resources we compiled yesterday.

candles for 2Last evening, at around comment # 89, Jennifer shared this prayer of comfort and hope while she was still struggling with finding sermon words. Thank you, Jennifer.  Let us pray:

Ever-present God, we pray that you would reveal yourself to us in this moment. Just this past week, we lit a candle for peace. How can it be that violence has ripped through this fragile peace once more, and children and their teachers have died in this attack? We don't know the details--and we don't need to know--but we trust that you were present there. We believe there were acts of courage, and we thank you for them. We are assured there were acts of comfort in the face of fear, and we thank you for them. We know there is great love, between parents being reunited with their children, and, yes, in the waves of grief that begin now for those who must face the loss of those most precious to them.

Our sadness runs so, so deep, but your love runs deeper still. Meet us in this present darkness, and shine a light for us to follow in the hours, days, and weeks ahead. Lead us to those places where we, too, might shine a light as individuals and as a community. Help us to hold up one another and to reach out for what we need.

In the name of Jesus, who came to earth as one of us, knowing hurt, knowing sorrow, knowing loss, and weeping for the death of a friend, Amen.

164 comments:

  1. Giving thanks for a night of sleep. And for all my RevGals who have been continuing in conversation.
    Somehow, God is helping us speak through the raw emotion and grief.
    Woke up this morning with the thought that the smallest pinprick of light is most visible in the most complete darkness.
    Light is drowned out by light but comes into its own in darkness.
    I'm going with that thought and the light that came into the world, the Incarnation.
    A light that sparks the smallest beginnings of joy as it brings peace.
    I hope that you too are experiencing stirrings that lead you to the right word for your people - God's people.
    Let me share some fresh berries and yogurt and Scottish Breakfast hot tea.
    Hoping to write a little more before having a hair cut.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Liz. A good word about the power of light when it's really dark.

      Passing my plate and cup to you. Also remembering that I need to make a long-overdue hair appointment.

      Delete
    2. Liz, I so appreciate this - light is drowned out by light, but comes into its own in darkness.

      I often say that darkness is where life begins...new life in the darkness of the womb, new life in the breaking forth of the sun,splitting the dark night sky. Without darkness there could be no new life. - that is not exactly helpful in the moment of a tragedy, but looking back over the tragic moments of my life I can say that God has always brought forth a kind of new life even through the tragedy.

      Delete
  2. here it is just after 10pm on Saturday and I have been to visit father-in law in hospital today, [12 hours all up, with travelling and visiting family] so time to get stuck into the sermon. I am writing about joy, but coming home to the news of the school shooting, that means changing it a little.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Always a pleasure to find you here as we start the morning, pearl!

      I wonder how this news is playing there. Have there been any events there that are remembered when tragedy strikes elsewhere? I wonder how others see what's going on over here.

      Delete
  3. sermon finished, but with so many quotes that I wondered if I should out it in my blog, but here it is joy?

    time to print and get ready for bed, I need some sleep before worship and church Christmas lunch tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You put the quotes into good context. It's also a powerful testimony that "light in the darkness" can be the wisdom and experience of others.

      RESOURCE: Pearl's sermon -- Joy? -- includes the Max Lucado prayer about violence and the Marianne Williamson prayer about letting our light shine. At the end of their worship service, everyone had a small bell, and they were invited to think of a way that they live out their discipleship and joy and then to go and place the bell in the manger.

      Delete
    2. The Marianne Williamson quote is one of my favorites. thank you for tying it to this.

      Delete
    3. I may use the prayer by Max Lucado, or at least adapt it. thank you!

      Delete
  4. Good morning from the Central Standard time zone in the U.S.!

    I have committed that great RevGal breakfast sin: I am out of half & half. So please enjoy Liz's tea until I can get to the corner store in a little while. Do help yourself to breakfast tacos to go with Liz's berries and yogurt and tea.

    Today, I will highlight the resources we find in the comments and will flag them so that they might be easily found.

    So share freely and partake freely. It's your party! And, yeah, you can cry if you want to.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am usually a Saturday writer and RevGals lurker, but I finished a draft last night and posted it for colleagues who might be working through how to address Advent joy in the midst of such tragedy. Sharing with you all as well on my blog, For the Someday Book

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, and it's based on Zephaniah 3 and called "How Dare We Speak of Joy."

      Delete
    2. I especially appreciated hearing about the Zephaniah cultural and historical context. Good to be reminded that God has been through all of this before and acted redemptively.

      Apparently spell check does not like the word "redemptively"!

      Delete
    3. I have struggled all day to find words for the sermon tomorrow. It seems my introverted side simply needs more time to receive the horror of this week before having to speak out loud about it. This evening, I had half a sermon written and then found yours which perfectly expressed what I wanted to say in the second half. So I have borrowed heavily - with attribution - I hope you don't mind. Not normally my practice, but felt right today. I'm grateful for your generosity in sharing your words.

      Delete
  6. Finally up, after a night with a big chunk of sleep lost in the middle. I'm so grateful for all the conversation yesterday and last night. I was going to tinker with what I had, but I think that now I'll start with a blank screen and a new title.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good morning, Robin. So grateful for the conversation, too.

      Go for it! And let us know how it's going, OK?

      Delete
    2. Robin, I did the same. Slept fitfully, and then got up to start with a blank page....

      Delete
  7. Working on the sermon now, because I could not yesterday afternoon (when I had planned to)--too many emotions swirling.
    Living in Canada, we tend to be a bit complacent--"those crazy Americans, with their loose gun laws." And yet we have had mass killings, such as the Montreal Massacre in 1989, when 14 women were killed and many others wounded. So I want to challenge us a little--not talking about gun control or other political aspects, but our complacency. It can happen here--we are not immune to random violence. How do we speak God's word of peace when things like this happen? How can we talk of joy? Where is the joy for those families, that town? Where is it for any of us?
    Not sure where any of this is leading, but am (sadly) pressed for time today, with a community event this afternoon/evening.
    I have almond poppyseed bread to offer for nibbling with the coffee!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rainbow Pastor. The coffee is hot and fair trade, and poppyseed bread does sound delicious!

      Not the same thing at all and is not offered as a good illustration, but "how can we talk of joy?" reminded me of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The town sang joyfully (?) (or at least kept the practice) even when Christmas had been stolen. I took from that the lesson that you can either be the Grinch (with his insatiable needs and atrophied heart) or live in the community of faith, which lives from a place of hope and love together, through it all.

      Delete
  8. Re-write has begun here too. I had to go back to last night's to see what I was thinking then. I was going to our new deacon's hooding ceremony this morning, but I know he will understand.

    Thanks for the goodies - I add dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds to the mix. It's going to be a long day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yum and double yum, Amy -- thanks!

      Trying to get a handle on this, too.

      Delete
  9. Since I'm here, I'll offer some stream of consciousness -- or foolishness -- you decide:

    Going around on Facebook: Wear Sandy Hook's school colors -- blue and yellow -- on Monday. Spread the word.

    Solidarity? Or making us feel better? Ditto the appeal to send cards. Ritual and remembering are our business. Are people looking for something tangible to do? John the Baptist talks about acts of justice and generosity, it seems to me. What do you all think?

    Remembering -- because have we collectively forgotten? -- all the "hoodie" solidarity at the time of Trayvon Martin's killing (Feb. 26, 2012) and all the outrage then. But that's old news now, it seems, as is the outrage over "stand your ground" gun laws in FL. Yet, here we are. Again. Still.

    Wondering how long John the Baptizer was preaching out there in the wilderness before there was any sign of repentance (changed minds) that lasted until the next day, or longer.

    A pastoral colleague in the UCC is all in favor of serving Holy Communion every week. He says he would benefit from that re-membering because he has a short memory.

    Going to get more coffee!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm going to follow Pearl's example. The sermon will be a loose association of my thought from last night with Max Lucado's letter, the TEC PB's letter, and Jennifer's prayer to end. We have Lessons and Carols at the main service tomorrow (I preach tonight and early tomorrow) so I trust the agelessness of those lessons and carols will be a balm to the souls of those gathered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like a beautiful approach, Amy.

      Delete
  11. I have so much to do between now and next Friday when my kids and brothers arrive for a pre-Christmas Christms. I can't believe they will all be here during my busiest time. ACK!

    But I am grateful to have them coming. And so am working ahead to have everything written - multiple sermons and newsletter articles - and worship planned and bulletins printed.

    So, my sermon for tomorrow was already written. And now, like others here, tossed out.

    I began again this morning on a blank page. But I may have a draft. So, that is something.

    Now I am heading over to the church to help a new reader learn the protocol in this congregation for reading lessons. I'll be back.

    Thank you, everyone for the conversation last night and today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations on the draft. That must feel great with everything else that is happening. Blessings upon your day, Terri!

      Delete
  12. I've been out of it with visiting and general busyness for 2 days, so have only caught up with the conversation now. My sermon was written yesterday and I have a feeling that I am going to leave it as it is and leave it to the Holy Spirit to guide me in anything more I need to say. I feel anything I say to you Gals out there in USA especially will be superficial. Feeling is too deep for words.

    I have a dying 84 year old who cannot die -- why the children when she wants to go? The eternal question.

    This afternoon we had our "Seniors" party. I think I must have dried about 300 plates! (Reminder that priests remain deacons who serve . . .) But I have mince pies to offer. . .

    Thoughts, love and prayers to you all. As others have said, Rachel weeping for her children . . . how do we even begin to face such grief?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for checking in, Pat. You are not the only person, even here in the U.S., who are staying with what they had already done for Sunday. Letting the Spirit guide to wherever seems to work out the best!

      Mince pies are always welcome!

      Delete
    2. Wondering if it would be appropriate to light 26 T-light candles tomorrow. Will be led at the time.

      Delete
  13. Good morning preachers.

    Well.

    So Newtown CT is 16 miles from here, and my exercise teacher just called me sobbing because one of her friends lost a grandchild in the massacre. This one really hits close to home. I just skimmed yesterday's posts--lots of good stuff there to digest but I wasn't ready yesterday. However if you know me on FB you know I wasn't shy about sharing my outrage and grief there, and I will continue to do so because for me that is my best forum (not necessarily true for everyone but I have reserved FB as the place I will freely speak my mind which I cannot always do in my local community....but I digress.)

    My heart is crying out for me to name the evils: free access to weapons of mass destruction (assault weapons), lack of access to mental health care, over-glorification of violence. But I tread on thin ice with some of them and I need to find a way to do it gently. Just not sure at this point what I will say. But I know that God is weeping with us.

    And there's the other thing that needs to be said: God is weeping with us. This is not part of God's plan, this is not a test, and sometimes we get more than we can bear, at least in the moment.

    I'm mostly venting here now, friends, thanks for providing the space for that.

    I will burn our Paschal candle tomorrow--usually that happens at baptisms, funerals, and the Easter season. I think I am going to skip the pink vestments and talk about why joy is not in our hearts right now even though the hope of it is ever present. And I need to rewrite the prayers of the people.

    Tonight I am supposed to go to a surprise 50th birthday party for my exercise teacher (yeah, the same one) not sure how that is going to be....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my, RDM! "Joy is not in our hearts, though the hope of it is ever present." Yeah . . .

      Just hug her and love her. I mean, what else is there?

      Hugs and love to you, too!

      Delete
    2. Oh wow, RDM, thinking of you, your teacher, her friend, their family.

      Delete
  14. My daughter just posted this quote on FB:

    We must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.

    -Martin Luther King Jr.

    Amen and amen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OH! Thank you. I can use that quote.

      Delete
  15. I wrote a new sermon and it's up on Beautiful and Terrible. (Sorry, Martha, I just do not have it in me to do the html, which brings out an apparently latent dyslexia -- I usually have to try at least three times. I promise to work on improving.)

    Anyway, I have no idea. I'm very grateful for all the conversation yesterday, esp. that about fruits of the spirit and about congregations that don't really follow the news. If any of our very few young children show up, I will have to speak to their parents before I launch into any of the more graphic references (of which there are few, but still). I tried to keep in mind the kind of loss that most of my people have faced in recent years: the more usual losses of the elderly, but there was a child long ago, and there have been children in the broader community as recently as last week.

    And as for me, I'm remembering what it is like to be a mother on this kind of a morning. My bones hurt. Rejoicing is not on my personal calendar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robin - I'm so grateful for your witness and honesty both here and yesterday. Especially grateful for this reminder that we do not know all the ache and horror that individuals in our congregations may be facing on any given Sunday. I wonder if having the grief so publicly acknowledged/shared makes it easier or harder? ...Probably neither easier nor harder - just different, now that I think of it.

      Delete
    2. I am not the link police, or even the person who ever suggested it, just the one who helps when help is needed. No need to apologize to me.
      Anyway, here's Robin's sermon: And how should we then live?

      Delete
    3. Thanks for being one of Mr. Roger's Angels, Martha :)

      And Robin, thanks so much for your words. May I have permission to quote some parts, if it turns out that way?

      Also, just got a sermon outline from a retired pastor in the congregation "if I was preaching, what I would say is..." which had many lovely things in it, including a reassurance that this was Not Part Of God's Plan. Tells something about my theology, I guess that this would not have occurred to me. Do others find this kind of reassurance helpful, though? If so, may be important to say.

      Delete
    4. Oh, sure, whatever you want.

      Not quite sure what you mean by the rest. Though I don't believe this is part of God's plan. If I did, I would not be a pastor.

      But most of the folks in my congregation believe this is God's plan and God's will and that God steals children to become angels. I try to be very gentle and receptive, though I have been known to exclaim "NO!" at inappropriate moments.

      Delete
    5. Yeah, so then you run into the CPE trouble, where we've been taught not to take away people's comfort. That's the pastoral approach. But Holy Hannah, don't we owe them a little prophecy on that topic?

      Delete
    6. Yes, we do. But the blend is so difficult.

      My church is in an area with a large Amish population, and it seems to me that there is a disproportionate number of deaths of young people among them -- farm accidents, buggy accidents, illness and childbirth outcomes. One day one of our leaders was talking about how much he admires the Amish and their acceptance of these things as God's will, accompanied my many nodding heads. I said quietly that it is not God's will that children die in buggy accidents; that God's will is always for life. People looked horrified.

      Delete
    7. Robin - Sorry I was not clear before - an extrovert-thinking-out-loud problem. But I meant just what you said in your post just above. God's will is always for life. And I think I take that so for granted that I forget that it needs to be said again and again and again.

      Delete
    8. I did say it explicitly in the sermon tonight - that God was there with them and that this was not God's will or plan for their lives. I hope I did not remove anyone's comfort, but in the Bible belt, there are more thinkers like Huckabee. I challenged those there to speak up gently if they heard that theology this week.

      Delete
  16. Good morning everyone - Was briefly on-line yesterday, and am appreciating so much catching up on the conversation here this morning.

    The big giggle fest that I had planned for Joy Sunday about the joy of the newly married g/l couples in Washington state seems completely inappropriate now. And yet...yesterday I got a wedding announcement in the mail from some friends who've been together for 2 decades and are finally able to legally marry. My friend had written on the announcement "pinch me! am I dreaming?" and a big smiley face. Even her handwriting looked happy. So there's something there for me about the seeds of life/love/joy growing into small but sturdy shoots even in the midst of horror.

    And, thinking about this On Being podcast I think I mentioned on FB yesterday - mostly for the way that Ali Abu Awwad emphasizes the way that forgiveness helps him to honor, not to forget his pain. Still pondering that, too.

    Thanks for these other resources. I'm going to read some of them now. As always, I find Worshiping With Children to be spot-on, but looking forward to seeing what else folks have to say.

    Thanks for being here, all - I am so grateful today for this community. I'll check in later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Juniper, and many blessings as you address joy and sorrow. I like hearing about the couple who will finally get to marry. The darkness is not a total eclipse. I keep forgetting that.

      Delete
  17. Off to the church now - 2:30 pm meeting for Blue Christmas service, 3pm rehearsal for Friday night's ordination, 5pm service. Will keep checking in. Continually praying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ordination service! I so wish I were able to be there to celebrate - give the ordinand a hug from me!

      Delete
    2. Will do - it was fun to see her bright face today.

      Delete
  18. I admire anyone who has her/his thoughts together. People at church (pageant rehearsal, so parents and grandparents as well as teachers and kids) seem to feel I will know what to do and how to do it. I wish I had their confidence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Martha.

      When our church secretary died suddenly at the end of the summer, we had a scheduled council meeting the next evening and as I was preparing for it, I thought, "Someone needs to address this and lead us though it." And then, "Oh! That would be me."

      Delete
    2. Ha! I hear that, Robin.

      Thoughts -- lots of them. Thoughts together -- not yet, but working on it. Slowly.

      Delete
    3. Yes to this! we had a tiny smattering of snow, in the Oregon way this morning. I found myself fantacising about a snow day for tomorrow, thinking if we could cancel church, I could go somewhere else and have someone say something comforting to me....

      Delete
    4. Jennifer, what an intriguing fantasy!

      Delete
    5. Me too, Martha, for me - hoping I have crafted a response that will meet where we are....and not at all being certain of that.

      Delete
  19. I'm leaving church to go to my daughter's choral concert. I've got most of a draft, thank goodness, though I have no idea whether it has anything to say to the people. We're going to set up our candle table with last year's Christ Candle in the middle of the sand, and I'm going to have it lit after the children leave, but before the scriptures are read, I think. And I believe we will substitute "There is a Balm" for "How Great Our Joy," since that hymn comes between the sermon and the Joys/Concerns/Pastoral Prayer. Best I've got, so far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enjoy your daughter's concert. Giving thanks for precious young voices singing -- such a sweet sound.

      Delete
  20. Thank you all for ideas and comfort shared. I have managed to alter the service to recognize shock and grief. Offering the tangible of lighting a candle to tie bringing light into dark places to our whole theme that culminates with Epiphany instead of Christmas this year.
    Funeral yesterday kept me from writing early and now I am glad, but still not sure how to bring the swirling thoughts together. Grateful for this place of honesty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Candles. What would we do without them?

      Nancy, thank you for being here. Prayers that your swirling thoughts will come together with the words you seek.

      Delete
  21. Praying with and for you all and all who are preaching tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We cherish those prayers. Thank you, Wil!

      Delete
  22. Like Wil, I am praying for all of you who are preaching tomorrow.

    And like a few others, our children's Christmas play is tomorrow in place of readings and the sermon, so they will be bringing us the Word...which does seem very appropriate.

    I am trying to write some new readings (about Mary and Elizabeth) for the cantata on the following Sunday (to go between the songs), but not getting much of anywhere yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your prayers and for stopping by, semfem. A children's play sounds perfect for tomorrow.

      Delete
  23. sigh...it's my last sunday, it's joy sunday, and it's now a grieving sunday. how exactly to hold all of that together, i have no idea. but i do have frango mints and candy cane hot cocoa....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teri, life is always complex, isn't it?...(sigh) - the bitter with the sweet, the tragic with the hope, the grace.

      I do hope you are able to celebrate with joy the time you have had with these people you love. Able to celebrate with joy the new life that is to come. I know you will hold steady the sorrow and sadness that lives in tandem, hand in hand, always, with joy. For that is life. I will be thinking of you tomorrow, picturing you in my head and in that church and with those people - and holding all of you in love and prayer.

      Delete
    2. Oh Teri,holding you in prayer. May you feel and express God's grace in this day with so many griefs.

      Delete
    3. Teri, I was thinking of you earlier; I thought last Sunday was your last. I am so glad that you and your community will be able to see one another through this.

      Delete
  24. Oh my, Teri. That's a tough one, all right. May God bless you with just the right way to say "good-bye" to your congregation.

    I'll try some of that candy cane hot cocoa!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have posted my newly written sermon, thanks in part to Wil and the twitter conversation last night: O Come, into this Emmanuel Moment.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I so worry that I have gone completely off the mark. My head is muddled. I may have to throw this one out too or large parts of it...I think I will take a break, exercise and meditate, and come back for a second look at what I have labored over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just read your sermon and was touched by what you wrote. Specifically, it gave me chills in a couple of places, which is how I know. I heard honesty there, and I think that's going to be as important as anything.

      The break will help, either way, I'm guessing.

      Delete
    2. thanks, Sharon. I appreciate that you took the time to read what I wrote and comment on it. I feel better, even though I always worry that I come across as too intellectual, too solution oriented, and not in the moment. So, I work hard at it...which can sometimes just lead to my writing feeling forced. sigh. At least it seems I may have struck the right balance here. Thanks.

      Delete
    3. This is beautiful Terri - and I'm sure it will be healing to those who hear. Silence, hugs and prayers indeed.

      Delete
  27. I try and always watch the news on Sunday morning, as a Lay preacher I was caught out one Sunday morning; and the first item is the school shooting, and the second a cyclone in the Pacific that is heading towards Fiji, forecast to hit there tonight. In our Christmas appeal, Fiji was the country we looked at last week.  
    Today is our Church Christmas gathering at lunch time, in between morning tea and lunch we are making something - cards, door hangers, ... , to hand out to residents at the nursing home we go carolling at each year. I need to still get a few bits and pieces together, and shower.

    thanks you all for being such a great on-line community

    ReplyDelete
  28. Terri, it is touching and will help many. I went with a piece from Rev. Heath on Huff post and incorporated it as a specific, like John suggests when he tell people what do do. I only hope it helps tomorrow. posted here the Weight of Christmas

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting how that title worked out!

      Thank you for sharing your sermon with us, Nancy.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Nancy. I'll be over to read yours shortly!

      Delete
  29. I, of course for the regulars, am a late night writer usually, but have a decent chunk done as of 3:30 a.m. this morning - 600 words that make a up a full outline. All I need to do now is fill in the blanks. I hope it stays short because I'd like for us to just sit quiet for a while and/or ring our big church bell in prayer for those who died.

    I'm in the narrative lectionary so our scripture is Isaiah 61:1-11.

    I start my sermon off with the realization that I had on Friday afternoon that everything I had planned to say would have to be tossed aside as I found something new for the day. In the end, though, I come around to say that actually, I didn't have to toss anything aside, because the theme for the day is God's longing for restoration and never is that made more clear than in the midst of such horror and tragedy. It gives me a chance to say that God does not will this - - God doesn't break hearts, God binds up the brokenhearted.

    I'll play in there somewhere with my understanding of joy -- not fleeting feelings of happiness or giddiness, but the awareness that what I am doing or being in a given moment is exactly what God created me to do or be in that moment. That's joy, in my mind, and we need that more than ever right now. So we will light the candle of joy and give thanks for the people who lived joyfully even in the middle of horror and sadness. We will pray that we all have the courage to live joyfully right here, right now, fully present in the lives we live, being who God created us to be, joining God in longing and making real the restoration of the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is really helpful to me. I especially like the admission that we want to throw it all out and the realization that what was, still is, in terms of what God is up to, which is good news in all times and places. At least that's what I heard that was helpful!

      Thank you, Stephanie!

      Delete
    2. Sounds SPOT ON if you ask me. Great sermon.

      Delete
    3. That's what I was trying for Sharon. Or better said, that's what the Spirit said to me in the middle of the night when I was awake because I felt THANKFUL to be cleaning up my kindergartener's green candy colored puke off the floor of my bedroom, hallway, and bathroom

      Thanks! I'll get to writing it hopefully just after everyone goes to bed. I MIGHT even get it posted tonight. (HA!!!)

      Delete
  30. God, let me cry on Your shoulder”
    by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, 12/14/12

    God, let me cry on Your shoulder.
    Rock me like a colicky baby.
    Promise me You won't forget

    each of Your perfect reflections
    killed today. Promise me
    You won't let me forget, either.

    I'm hollow, stricken like a bell.
    Make of my emptiness a channel
    for Your boundless compassion.

    Soothe the children who witnessed
    things no child should see,
    the teachers who tried to protect them

    but couldn't, the parents
    who are torn apart with grief,
    who will never kiss their beloveds again.

    Strengthen the hands and hearts
    of Your servants tasked with caring
    for those wounded in body and spirit.

    Help us to find meaning
    in the tiny lights we kindle tonight.
    Help us to trust

    that our reserves of hope
    and healing are enough
    to carry us through.

    We are Your hands: put us to work.
    Ignite in us the unquenchable yearning
    to reshape our world

    so that violence against children
    never happens again, anywhere.
    We are Your grieving heart.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Sharon, thank you for sharing that prayer. It helps.

    Here is the core of the sermon I would have preached if I would have been with the congregation I serve. Instead it has become my weekly e-letter.

    It has been so good to have the companionship and prayers of us all in the last day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you take it down? I wanted to read it, but it's not there.

      Thank you for being one of those prayer companions, RevAlli. It is good to have each other.

      Delete
    2. Don't know what happened to it. I will repost as soon as I can get to a hot spot.

      Delete
  32. I have been to the grocery store for coffee hour supplies, to the card store for a birthday card, to church where I rewrote the Prayers of the people, sent out a parish wide email with some resources for talking with children, printed more resources to hand out tomorrow, and printed out a Eucharist Prayer for the times of senseless tragedy--diocesan leadership has done a wonderful job in connecting us with these resource, which the internet makes so available, TBTG!

    But I have <300 words for a sermon and I have to be at a birthday party in an hour. Ugh. If it weren't for my exercise instructor who I think probably needs some pastoral care I would just skip it. I guess I will be at the late night party. I think I do have a plan for the sermon though. One of the resources on Christian Century was "what you can do;" basically it was pray, admit the world is broken, and do something. I think I can work with that and be pastoral as well as speak the truth gently. That's my hope anyway.

    Back later!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Also someone mentioned Bruggeman-he has a wonderful prayer for just such a situation in his book, "Prayers for a Privileged People." Might use that tomorrow too.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I thought I would use the song There is a Place written by John Bell, written after the Dunblane school massacre. I made a power point with the lyrics and some photos. I have used the lyrics from that song for some children's funerals and find that the phrases carry much healing in them. In the midst of this horror it helps to hear that "there is a place where all the all the lost potential yields its full promise and
    finds its lost intent."
    Happy to send the power point to anyone - but don't know how to link it. Send me an e-mail if you'd like me to send it to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I there - could not find this - do you mind sending me the link? pastor at hillsdaleucc dot org

      thanks!

      Delete
    2. I have no idea how to share the link from iTunes, but it's on the album "The Last Journey - Songs for the Time of Grieving." Here's the mp3 on Amazon. It's 10 cents cheaper there. :)

      Delete
    3. Oh thanks. funny, I read that word "itunes" but kept thinking "youtube" - no wonder I could not find it.

      Delete
  35. Here is a blog post that contains a number of quotes, perhaps helpful for one of you? They were collected by a colleague of mine in response to this tragedy... you can find them here

    ReplyDelete
  36. ..and, here is another prayer that may help:

    O Lord,remember not only the men and women of good will but also those of evil will. And in remembering the suffering they inflicted upon us,honor the fruits we have borne thanks to this suffering --- our comradeship, our humility,our compassion, our courage,our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of all this; and when they come to the judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne,be their forgiveness...
    Anonymous (Found on the body of a woman at Auschwitz.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness.

      Thanks for these, Terri!

      Delete
  37. thanks for these prayers and posts. Every idea helps pull together what folks need for tomorrow...and any time. Thanks Sharon, Terri, for those links

    ReplyDelete
  38. I just read the names. It got to me. Again.

    - Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female
    - Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male
    - Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female.
    - Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female
    - Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female
    - Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female
    - Dylan Hockley, 3/8/06, male
    - Dawn Hocksprung, 06/28/65, female
    - Madeleine F. Hsu, 7/10/06, female
    - Catherine V. Hubbard, 6/08/06, female
    - Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male
    - Jesse Lewis, 6/30/06, male
    - James Mattioli , 3/22/06, male
    - Grace McDonnell, 12/04/05, female
    - Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female
    - Emilie Parker, 5/12/06, female
    - Jack Pinto, 5/06/06, male
    - Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male
    - Caroline Previdi, 9/07/06, female
    - Jessica Rekos, 5/10/06, female
    - Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female
    - Lauren Russeau, 6/1982, female (full date of birth not specified)
    - Mary Sherlach, 2/11/56, female
    - Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female
    - Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male
    - Allison N. Wyatt, 7/03/06, female

    All the kids were 6 or 7 years old. Lord, help us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ben Wheeler is already in our prayers b/c he was a member of the Episcopal Church there and we got his name earlier....God have mercy. So incredibly sad, so sad, so sad.

      What made me cry today was seeing a picture of my 4.5 year old granddaughter wearing angel wings in rehearsal for her first Christmas pageant, and seeing in my mind all those other kids.

      God have mercy.

      Delete
    2. I look at all those beautiful names and think of each of them being chosen for a special, beloved, unique child, whether five or six years ago or decades ago.

      Delete
    3. In your mercy, Lord, hear our prayers.

      Delete
  39. Speaking of context, preaching in New Orleans where 1800+ people died in Katrina, and a whole world will never be the same. And I wasn't here, so I can't relate to the actual experience they had. And, they view it as an UN-natural disaster, a human made one, because of the infrastructure problems and the lack of planning, etc.

    I wonder if I go there, but it feels like the elephant in the room.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon, I think you have face the elephant in the room. But, authentically - maybe ask the congregation what they felt in the midst of so much loss and despair, and how they found hope again - and how that might inform our understanding of this tragedy and what the families need? Maybe not. I can do this in my parish, talk with them, engage in dialogue at sermon time. Not every place will do this, however. Still the commonalities include a complacency and complicity of our society ?

      Delete
    2. Those are indeed some of the commonalities. I love the thought of asking them what they would say to the families, what word of hope would they offer. Maybe I could start with some of the platitudes (unhelpful) and unhelpful responses. I think I could make that work in this congregation. Giving that some thought. Thanks, Terri!

      Delete
    3. Oh good! You're welcome....

      Delete
  40. Somewhat miraculously, I have most of a draft! Now I have to get ready for the party, but when I get back and finish it I will try to post it.

    Later...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We'll be here. Our prayers go with you.

      Delete
  41. Spent the day in glorious distraction, visiting with our mums, (the kids grans) but the sermon had already come together. here is what I have. Sharon, thanks for sharing names, known and loved by God.

    ReplyDelete
  42. According to The Children's Defense Fund EIGHT children or teens die every day from gun violence. (Stats are from 2008 & 2009)

    ReplyDelete
  43. From Marion Wright Edelman article on Huffington Post:

    The most recent statistics reveal 2,694 children and teens were killed by gunfire in 2010; 1,773 of them were victims of homicide and 67 of these were elementary school-age children. If those children and teens were still alive they would fill 108 classrooms of 25 each. Since 1979 when gun death data were first collected by age, a shocking 119,079 children and teens have been killed by gun violence. That is more child and youth deaths in America than American battle deaths in World War I (53,402) or in Vietnam (47,434) or in the Korean War (33,739) or in the Iraq War (3,517).

    ReplyDelete
  44. I come very late to the party today. I have a guest this weekend - a pastor from Cameroon here in our synod on a 3 month pulpit exchange. So I wasn't planning on preaching because he is doing a dramatic monologue as King Herrod. Perfect timing.

    I am addressing the shooting during our Advent candle lighting litany, using a quote from another pastor gleaned off our ELCA clergy fb page. I share it with you:

    Pastor Joelle Coville-Hanson from Ridgeway Iowa writes: The lamentations of the Rachels in the world must not prevent our joy but it tempers our joy. And it reminds us that this is the world God so loved that he sent his own son. It reminds us that the young mother who cradled her babe in the stable that night we sing of also watched her son die on the cross. And that God himself watched his own Son die.

    For Christians, the story does not end on Christmas Eve, but it does not end with the story of the massacre of the innocents either. We always look toward Easter. In the end, neither Herod, or Pilate, or even the Devil himself was able to stop God’s plan. We are not helpless before the powers of this world. No matter what power evil and sadness has in the world – and be assured it’s a temporary and dying power – it cannot stop God’s goodness, and love, and forgiveness, and redemption. And that certainly brings a joy that anyone can experience at Christmas time, whatever sorrows or loneliness or memories or illness befall us, during this season or any season. Whatever your circumstance at Christmas, Christ was born for you.

    I can't say it any better. So I won't try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joelle is one of our RevGalBlogPals. Thanks for sharing her words.

      Delete
  45. each week we are adding a verse to the song we sing at the lighting of the advent candle. Here is this week's verse....
    "We sing in exultation, but admit our hesitation
    When we see a world in pain and despair.
    Yet even amid sorrow is a promise for tomorrow
    The God of joy is moving us to care."

    I think I can preach that...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice!

      I'm still trying to preach something!

      Delete
    2. Yes, Teri. that will preach.

      Delete
    3. Beautiful, and preachable.

      Delete
  46. Hi pals. It's so good to read all your musings and, in so doing, to hear all your voices, as we ponder and process everything together.

    I am not preaching tomorrow, but am offering the prayer and am going to have a time of naming the deceased (including the shooter). Prayers for all of you as you bring the good news tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you are here, earthchick. The prayer will have its own challenges, especially the names. You are in our prayers, too.

      Delete
  47. How's everyone doing?

    I just waded into the shallow end of the preaching pool. I'm up to the 281 word line. Not much, but at least the feet are wet.

    Anyone have any chocolate? Or leftover donuts? Anything?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I recently had a mocha made from instant coffee, hot chocolate mix and milk to help me make some progress, you're welcome to some ;)
      ~~ bythesea

      Delete
    2. I've been away all afternoon, but I'm settled back in front of the CNN and learning more horrific details every minute.

      I have chocolate ice cream. Have some!

      Delete
    3. Not watching any more - taking the sage advice of someone who suggested that we not watch too much of it, and so...saw enough earlier this evening.

      Now I'm watching White Christmas....and thinking that Rosemary Clooney had a beautiful voice.

      and I'm about to have a cup of mint tea and ice cream (peppermint).

      no doubt it feels very bizarre....

      Delete
  48. Even tho I haven't been posting to my blog for some time and have only occasionally been lurking at the preacher party, I give thanks for this group and your voices.

    I am still wrestling with what to preach in the morning. Many thoughts rattling in my head, need to find a way to narrow or focus.
    ~~ bythesea

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome here in the company of the rest of us who are still wandering with things rattling around everywhere. The focus is, for sure, the hard part for me, too.

      Have some chocolate with us!

      Delete
  49. basically I feel drawn to try to create a balance between acknowledging the tragedy and that bad things happen, and yet we still have reason for hope.

    parts of the readings that draw me are noting that God is in our midst and that is a reason to rejoice, also folks asking John what they should do, johns role to prepare the way & call folks to repent/change.

    Pondering the words of Come thou long expected Jesus, the Mr Roger's quote that was circulating, and my problem with folks saying this is a result of taking God out of schools.

    Then there's the fact someone was critically shot in my workplace over 10 years ago and every public shooting dredges up my baggage around that.

    Yep, there's a mish-mash in my head. Going to take a shower now, since that often helps things gel.

    first I need to read thru all the posts here, that might help me as I figure out where to land & what's going in. ~~bythesea

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds like a pretty good start. Thanks for reminding me of the Mr. Rogers quote. I do like that one.

      See you a little later, then, bythesea.

      Delete
  50. Today has included the funeral for a 54 year old dad of two young teens, which was hard enough in itself. But as I stood looking at his casket, I just kept thinking of all the tiny caskets yet to come and of the number of times pastors will need to find words and of the multiplication of people grieving...it broke my heart all over again.

    Like so many others, I had an angle on tomorrow's sermon and found myself needing to re-think. I believe I am preaching the same thing but coming at it from a different direction, but I am not sure; for that matter, I am not sure I have said anything at all worth hearing (sound familiar, friends?). On the bright side, I stayed at the church after the funeral reception and wrote, so I got it done in under 4 hours and for once I am finished before dinner time. That is, until I start fiddling! I will be reading sermons to which you all have posted links, and no doubt that will stir up some new thoughts as well. But even if I do nothing, at least I have something, and it reflects the pain in my heart.

    I want to have some time after the sermon for people simply to think a little, so I have to figure out how to segue into that. I may ask our organist to play Comfort, comfort ye my people, which has perfect words but on the other hand I don't really want folks busy with a hymnal. And I know that all my uncertainty and going in circles is mostly an outward sign of the same thing going on in my head and heart.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Oh my, Betsy, what a tough funeral to do. Those poor kids. And then, the image of tiny caskets is beyond sad. Let us pray for all of those pastors. Imagine ...

    The time to think after the sermon is a great idea. The instrumental version may imply the words, or is there a soloist who could gently do it?

    The good news is that you have something preachable. Way to go!

    ReplyDelete
  52. After hours of avoiding it, I'm reading over and fleshing out the draft I wrote in the early afternoon. I am so afraid of having to scrap it that I've made my timetable ridiculously short (worship in less than 12 hours-ack!). Let's hope I was really following the Spirit's lead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Martha, I am sure it is...she (the Spirit) works that way...has your back.

      Delete
    2. What Terri said. Glad you are here, Martha!

      Delete
  53. Hi friends,
    a little late to start, but had a day full of life today, which was needed after yesterday. Spent the morning with friends, saw the Hobbit with the family this afternoon. Now to sermonize.

    Preaching Mary and Micah.

    And I am going to foreshadow the "slaughter of the innocents" in Matthew, (forgive me for this. I know we're in Luke...) in order to make clear that the Holy family knew about the violence of the world, and was smack dab in the middle of it. Want to be clear that Gov Huckabee is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG about the idea that God would walk out of a school because of a made up issue, abandoning those children. That is abhorrent and will be called such.
    And then I'm using a quote from the Hobbit (see, going to the movie was a good plan). Gandalf is talking about why he invited a hobbit on the journey. His reply: "I’ve found it is the small things, every act of normal folk that keeps the darkness at bay — simple acts of kindness and love."
    So, hopefully, we can come up with some small things we can do to keep the darkness at bay.
    Prayers for all of your struggling. Glad I'm not alone on this journey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey there, Marci!

      Don't get me started on Huckabee. Actually, not much to say, cuz you said it in one word!

      Love you Hobbit quote. In some strange and mysterious way that I don't quite know myself, it may be the missing link. Because Lord knows, I'm a little low on linkage at this point!

      You are most definitely not alone. Glad you are here!

      Do you have chocolate?

      Delete
    2. Thank you for this, Marci. I think I will address this in some way in my welcome, since I know I have a church full of people who are nodding their heads in agreement with Huckabee today.

      Delete
    3. I've had churches like that, Robin. You go, girl! Give 'em heaven!

      Delete
    4. I have an entire tin of Christmas treats from my sweet deacon Loleeta. Come on over. And I just made some blueberry tea.

      Delete
    5. me too, churches like that. now, not so much....

      Delete
  54. My sermon is here - I don't use notes, so this is the general direction it went tonight and will again in the morning.

    When I sat down after I wondered if I had said anything at all that was helpful. On the way out, just about everyone thanked me for addressing the school shootings. Then once I got home, there were emails thanking me also. The people were anxious to hear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've had emails thanking me for the resources I sent out this afternoon...which is totally unlike my parish --usually they don't ever acknowledge info sent out. Clearly people are hurting and looking for solace.

      Delete
    2. I usually do not get any emails about sermons - very occasionally (once every 3 months) only. We had several new faces tonight too - I wonder if there is a connection, a need for comfort.

      Delete
  55. Back from the party which actually was fun, but definitely had a couple of somber moments...several people touched by the shootings indirectly. And then when I got home a note from a parishioner whose co-worker is the mother of the teacher who has been pictured on FB and the news as the teacher who died shielding her students.

    Having a hard time getting back into the sermon so I'm glad I got as much done as I did before I left. Now MUST WRITE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, RDM. They have made it so hard for you to break in there. It shouldn't have to take something like this.

      Delete
    2. Praying -- again, still -- for each of these who are grieving.

      There are others of us writing with you.

      And there are snacks!

      Delete
    3. I read that as snakes! I may be getting punchy about now bc it struck me as funny with the brood of vipers in the gospel. Off to bed - I hope I sleep better tonight. Prayers for all of us as we bring light to the darkness and hope to those who mourn. I thank God for you all, seriously, I cannot imagine doing this without this community.

      Delete
  56. Teri, are you out there? How goes it? I'm only one week behind you, so this is the second-to-the-last Sunday for us together. I would have touched on the departure, because I thought it would have been easier than next week, but now I haven't at all.
    I'm looking over a significantly improved draft and hoping I can polish it up in the next half hour or so and post it on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have something. I think it's terrible, but there could be morning re-writes. Or just lots of praying that I can deliver in a way that makes it worth listening to.

      Delete
  57. I may actually be getting somewhere!

    How is everyone else doing out there?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine is finally coming along. Second giant mug of blueberry tea is doing the trick.

      Delete
  58. I haven't posted a sermon in ages, but < here is tomorrow's

    Seems sort of rambly to me, but it is the best I've got for tonight.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I tried to finally come down to write at least 90 minutes ago. My husband was watching TV and promised he was just going to watch one more show then go to bed. so I stayed in the TV room to wait him out. Then he fell asleep. Clutching the remote. Out of my reach. And avoiding writing by playing Angry Birds was much too easy.

    I finally made enough noise to get him to wake up and go to bed. I've got 49 minutes 'til my self-imposed bedtime. Less, really, once I get my teeth brushed and jammies on and write in my journal. Good thing I got all my inspiration in the middle of the night last night when I was up with my pukey son. I don't think he'll be up again tonight, but I guess we never know.

    So, off to write. For real. Not for long, but for real.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! That's quite the story. Get going then. Praying that there's no pukey son on tonight's agenda.

      Delete
  60. In another place I read a comment on a prayer thread that reminded me that children die in many places and many ways that are tragic and preventable every day. And that spurred me to write a prayer I post in the FB group. If it has helpful words in it feel free to borrow and adapt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Gord. Sadly, it's true about all the children who are at risk every day. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  61. Okay, here it is: Discomfort and Joy. I'm going to try and sleep, although I find I'm looking at the headlines again...
    Blessings to all of you. Every one of you is doing good work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Martha. Going over to look at it now.

      Peace to you!

      Delete
  62. Umm... Yep, still up, still reading, still pondering & wrestling :/ kinda nice to know others are still up. At some point will have to decide if this is a sleep on it & wake up early moment
    ps sorry I'm posting as anonymous, trying to link to google & using mobile browser didn't seem to be working at the moment
    ~~bythesea

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. IJust glad you are here and willing to deal with the techno stuff!

      Lots of wrestling going on here tonight so you are indeed in good company! Here's hoping you can know when to call it a night.

      Delete
  63. It's midnight in beautiful NOLA and I can hardly type I'm so tired!

    I think I have a sermon that will preach. We'll see. Now I just need some sleep, if I can settle down.

    THANK YOU for being here, for sharing yourselves and for making this a place we can do some good work and have some fun.

    Enjoy the late night party!

    Blessings on each of you tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Hello, friends. I went to bed two hours ago, but a coughing child woke me up and I haven't been able to sleep since, due to stress and grief. So I got up and finished writing my prayer for tomorrow, while drinking Sleepytime tea. I just looked at The Washington Post's write-up about the victims of the massacre and have had a good cry. Think I might be able to sleep now.

    Thinking of all of you.

    ReplyDelete
  65. I have been with you all night. Reading. Crying. Writing. Just too much to process but I will be thinking of you all tomorrow and resting in God's grace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RevKel, thank you for being here. It is too much. It's just way too much. The prayers are what's holding it all together.

      Delete
  66. Midnight. 1900 words (long for me), and still not sure I'm saying what I'm trying to say, but I have to sleep for a bit before morning. Many blessings, dear sisters and brothers. Thanks for walking this road together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's how it feels to me too. This morning, I'm questioning everything. Trusting that the Holy Spirit does, indeed, have our backs, and also is holding our congregations. I know that we are being held in prayer by each other and many others.

      Delete

You don't want to comment here; instead, come visit our new blog, revgalblogpals.org. We'll see you there!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.