Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reflections on Newtown - part two

Grace arrived on Sunday evening. Gathered in the high school auditorium in Newtown, CT, the power of community came forth. Clergy and representatives from diverse faiths and backgrounds, stood before national cameras and showed that power comes not from the big names and fancy titles, not from the pundits or professionals, but from everyday people. The pastors, the Rabbi, the young Muslim singing the prayer were just like you and me, living in a world like you and me, until Friday. Or perhaps even until a few minutes before the cameras came on Sunday.

As a clergy myself I realized that these were all like I would have been on Friday. Getting ready for my service. Doing my thing. Just living the vocation I was called to. No one out of the ordinary, unknown beyond my relatively small circle. They were then swept up in huge happenings. They were called to minister to a town devastated, even as they themselves were devastated. That in itself would have been enough.

But it wasn't.

They have now been called to minister to the nation across the cable and TVs of millions. We watched looking for the signs of grace. We listened, straining for the words of redemption.

I don't know about you, but I heard those words and saw that grace as they put arms around each other, as they solemnly, but confidently took their moment in the spotlight and pointed to others beyond them. I felt the pain of the Rabbi as he chanted the mourning of centuries. I experienced the weariness as they all seemed burdened by a weight that is not a normal daily load. They did so with humility and gratitude for the community they were a part of. Differences of faith and belief were at least momentarily swept away and we had a glimpse of the hope of the Kingdom of our Creator.

It was no longer the slaughter of the innocents. It was a tiny glimmer of light once again shining in the darkness of a very dark place. The secret to that grace is not just turning to God, it is also in turning to each other.


I use that word often. I try to live within that word often. I am not sure I can live without it. It is not always easy. But it is first and foremost in community that grace becomes apparent.

To the clergy and people of Newtown, CT, I give humble thanks. You have a long way to go, I am sure. Healing has hardly been able to break through such tragedy. But you have, as the President said, been an inspiration. Now you must face the coming days of sadness and dread beyond the spotlight or the unblinking eye of the camera. We will be watching, hopefully as part of your extended community and not voyeurs.

Go about your work now. Go about life as best you can. But do not give up on grace or community.

Your children and grandchildren will need it as much as you.


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