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Hallo again to all.

BeholdIt is still short of a year since the crisp beauty of an Advent weekday morning was shattered in Sandy Hook, Connecticut by a school shooting. Our hearts still quicken and crumple at the memory of this particular installment in the international, ongoing massacre of the innocents. We remember well the proximity and intensity of this incident, too familiar now in its deadly grammar. We remember well the sense that perhaps this shooting would be the last of its kind; that perhaps if we could read all the medical records of the shooter or read his hard drive we would be able to find an explanation; that a conversation about mental illness and guns had reached the final point of necessity; that a global problem involving young men and single-shooter video games had to be addressed; that somehow the loss of life here would not be in vain.

Of course, as we reach the first anniversary of this event the world looks quite the same on a superficial level as it did before. Twenty-eight lives were cut short, and the emotional ripples of their senseless destruction are unlikely ever to cease. But patterns of cultural violence against children throughout the world seem no closer to solutions than they did before.

Our Sunday worship today was immersed achingly in reflection about the upcoming year's mind of this terrible event. The children’s choir from the Episcopal church nearest that school joined our own choir tonight for an Evensong whose power made us deeply sensible as perhaps never before of the resilience of God’s love in Jesus Christ. The beauty of young voices joined at nightfall in the ancient words of Common Prayer and praise was like a flower poking up through the ashes of a charred city. Our minds are still troubled about every social, medical, hamartiological problem exposed by the shooting at the school these choristers attended; but we brim with thankfulness for their attachment to the Church and their ongoing life of worship.

Nor is this the first time we have met the resurrection life in this group of children. Just months after the shooting, they volunteered to make sandwiches and lead worship in a local ministry to the homeless. Truly, their voices and their actions have joined in a fruitful faith against the worst odds.

Our words are not adequate to plumb the depths of the difficulty of the emotional and spiritual life of these children, their parents, their clergy, their teachers, their choir directors, and their relatives. Yet tonight, we will close our eyes with a confidence that the Church can be a place of strength and healing when we let it do its simple work of proclaiming the Gospel of Peace. God will bring good out of every evil conceived in the mind of man, and the very stones around us will not be silent in their praise of God’s mighty acts.

With tears he fights and wins the field;
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows looks of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh his warrior’s steed.

My soul, with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that he hath pight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little babe will be thy guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly boy.*

See you next week.

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27 October 2013

* New Heaven, New War, by Robert Southwell SJ

A thin blue line
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