As a country, have experienced some horrific tragedies. Some of us may ask the questions Do you know where God is when tragedy strikes? The bombing at the Boston Marathon, with the subsequent most massive manhunt that I can ever remember, the explosion in West Texas and the massacre of school children in Newton, Connecticut. Now today we have the Orlando Massacre. When we look back over the last few years, we realize there have been too many other occurrences of violence and they seem to be happening with even more frequency.
When children are involved – the loss of that innocence and potential – somehow “feels” even more devastating and heartbreaking. To my mind, John Donne 16th century author, theologian, poet and priest says it best:
When someone dies, I am diminished. Death is part of life, but when it is through an act of terror, there is an even greater sense of assault and violation because we recognize the loss of life in those circumstances is so unnecessary.
Often, a frequently asked question when this happens is: Where is God? For people of faith, it is a natural question. On this, Good Shepherd Sunday, we might even rephrase the question and ask: Where is the God who Shepherd’s us when we find ourselves in the Valley of the Shadow of death? One day peace will be realized on earth
In times of our greatest need and helplessness, there is something about the comfort that the 23rd Psalm offers that simply cannot be explained.
The Lord is my shepherd; * I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; * he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul; * he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his Name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; * for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; * thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, * and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Although we all have the question in our hearts that where is God in tragedy, you must have faith that he is right there as psalm 23 states that “you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Gracious God, you walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We pray that the suffering and terrorized be surrounded by the incarnate presence of the crucified and risen one.
Gracious God, you walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We pray that the suffering and terrorized be surrounded by the incarnate presence of the crucified and risen one. Let us not ask where is God in tragedy but may every human being be reminded of the precious gift of life you entered to share with us. May our hearts be pierced with compassion for those who suffer, and for those who have inflicted this violence, for your love is the only healing balm we know.
May the dead be received into your enfolding arms, and may your friends show the grieving they are not alone as they walk this valley of tears. All this we pray in the name of the one who walked the road to Calvary.1 Amen.Where is God in Tragedy? is God with us when tragedy strikes? God is here, within us holding our hearts and theirs.
Keep the Faith,
Tell me the weight of a snowflake,”
A coal mouse asks a wild dove.
“Nothing more than nothing,” is the answer.
In that case, I must tell you
A marvelous story,” the coal mouse says.
“I sat on the branch of a fir tree,
close to its trunk, when it began to snow . . .
Since I did not have anything better to do,
I counted the snowflakes settling
on the twigs and needles of my branch.
Their number was exactly 3,741,952.
When the next snowflake dropped onto
the branch – nothing more than nothing,
as you say – the branch broke off . . .”
The dove, since Noah’s time
An authority on the matter,
Thought about the story for a while
And finally says to herself:
“Perhaps, there is only one person’s voice lacking
for peace to come about in the world.”
The day the new year begins is important. Whether the new year begins in late March (the Romans), or the Fall (our Jewish sisters and brothers), it is not the day, but the possibilty of beginning anew that we cling to. And yet, “new year’s resolutions” do not have a high rate of success. Something more than resoultions are needed.
The story of the coal mouse and wild dove invites us to a new way of thinking about ourselves. In this vast fast paced technology driven world, among billions of people, we have a role. We do believe that, some day, peace will be realized in our world; racism and exploitation of people will pass, people will be house, fed and educated. We do not know when this will happen, but we must continue to belileve that our voice, our participation is necessary. In our story that 3,741,953rd snowflake, the addition of “nothing more than nothing” changes everything.
While each person is important, we have been given each other. We do not live and work alone. We belong to a community. Your work, your presence, your voice and gives are an important part of this community – St. Christopher’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church on Harbor Drive. I thank you for all you have done for St. Christopher’s in times past and look forward to the gifts you will share in the future – the snowflake that you will add to our parish and to our world. “Perhaps, there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come about in the world.”
“I invite you, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a Holy Lent… ”
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
It has been said that Lent is a time of personal spiritual growth: a time when I give up chocolate
or alcohol or dessert. It is a time when one takes on a certain spiritual discipline: perhaps a
specific study book, or method or frequency of prayer. We often ask one another: “What are you
doing for Lent this year?” And our answers frequently imply that Lent really and truly is all about
me (or maybe you).
On Ash Wednesday, we heard the Lenten Exhortation and prayed the Litany of Penitence. Both
were couched in communal terms. The Exhortation reminds us that it was “the custom of the
Church to prepare … by a season of penitence and fasting”; that it was a “time in which converts
to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism”; and “when those who … had been separated from
the body of the faithful were reconciled … and restored to the fellowship of the Church.” In the
Litany of Penitence, we acknowledge that “we have not loved with our whole heart, and mind,
and strength” that “we have been deaf’ and we confess “our self-indulgent appetites,” “our anger,”
and “our negligence.”
Lent is not so much about you or me as individuals, as it is about us. For the Prayer Book invites
us as citizens and as saints to an observance of a holy Lent not to make us better individuals
(although I hope it does) but to make us more aware of our membership in the Body of Christ,
the Church, and thus more responsible citizens not of a particular nation, but of the world.
Lent, then, is a journey that we take together so that we might observe “with great devotion the
days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection.” It is about us and our relationship with God and to
one another. It is a time when those bonds are to be nourished and strengthened. It is a time to
listen to God and do what God asks. Jesus is the key. He continually tells us that God is heard in
the voices of one another – in calls for help and support, in calls for love and care, healing and
Lent is not all about me. Nor is it all about you. It is about us. And so, I invite you, in the name
of the Church, to the observance of a Holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance: by prayer,
fasting and self denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.
Keep the Faith,
Christmas! Christmas that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones, once again, in sharing centuries
old traditions. Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts.
As Christians, we often proclaim that we are Resurrection people; and as we live out the reality of the promise of
Christ’s resurrection, we are. This time of year, we rejoice that we are also people of the Creche.
No matter how much we may have dreaded the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given
– now that Christmas Eve has finally arrived, there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth
that enfolds our hearts and our homes, the same sense of wonder and the same yearning for love.
On behalf of St. Christopher’s church community, the Vestry, the faculty, the staff, the Clergy and myself
May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
May you have the spirit of Christmas which is peace;
May you have the heart of Christmas which is love. Amen.