Sunday, December 16, 2012

And here's the sermon I actually preached

Advent 3C
Response to the Newtown, CT shootings

During the week, I try very hard to have my sermon finished no later than Thursday.  This is for two reasons, really.  The first is that I don't want to be working on my sermon during the weekend.  The second is that we have a few shut-ins who like to read the sermons I preach, so we send them copies
with the Sunday bulletin.

Today's gospel has John preaching the good news to a crowd made up of people from all different walks of life – regular people, tax collectors, soldiers and Pharisees.  They have all come out to the wilderness to hear what he has to say about the kingdom of God.  And the message John gives them is one of preparation and rejoicing.

This is the Third Sunday of Advent.  Today we light the pink candle.  In some places, today is referred to as Gaudette Sunday.  When we were in Chicago, one of the parishioners there had relatives in Australia and she told us they called it Mommy Sunday.  Today is associated with Gabriel's message to Mary and her response, the Magnificat. My original sermon, however, is at home on the table.  If you want to read it, it will be up on the website later.

Today in our country, there is precious little rejoicing and too many preparations are preparations not of hopeful expectation but of immense grief and sorrow as people begin to think about burying their babies.  Today we are ahead of the liturgical calendar as the commemoration of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents has been moved to this weekend.

The Feast of the Holy Innocents is December 28.  That is the day we remember those killed by Herod in his attempt to eliminate the new king, as well as all other innocent victims.

The event we commemorate on the Church calendar remembers those killed by a power-hungry king intent on holding onto that power to the extent that he had members of his own family murdered.  Even if brutal, that is at least a reasonable explanation for his behavior.  There is no explanation so far for a young man to walk into a grade school armed with two 9 mm pistols and an AR-15 rifle, and kill 20 children.

As I watched the events unfold, I listened to the President's statement.  He is right: this is an event that happens all too often in our country.  Columbine; Atlanta; Ft. Worth; Chicago; Brookfield, WI; Nickel Mines, PA; Virginia Tech; Delaware State University; Northern Illinois University; Covina, CA; Binghamton, NY; Ft. Hood, TX; Tucson, AZ; Aurora, CO; Oak Creek, WI; Moses Lake, WA; Clackamas Mall in Portland; and now Newtown, CT.  And there are more I haven't named.

A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they are no more.  Voices cried out, “My child is dead!  Who will comfort me?”

In the wake of this tragedy, people pray, “Lord, have mercy.”

In the wake of this tragedy, people cry out, “How many more must die?  Why, Lord, why?”

Today we remember 20 children, all aged six and seven-years old.  Today we remember eight adults.

Today we remember the Holy Innocents killed simply because they were easy targets.

Today we remember:
Charlotte Bacon
Daniel Barden
Olivia Engel
Josephine Gay
Ana Marquez-Greene
Dylan Hockley
Madeline Hsu
Catherine Hubbard
Chase Kowalski
Jesse Lewis
James Mattioli
Grace McDonnell
Emilie Parker
Jack Pinto
Noah Pozner
Caroline Previdi
Jessica Rekos
Avielle Richman
Benjamin Wheeler
Allison Wyatt
Rachel Davino
Ann Marie Murphy
Lauren Russeau
Mary Sherlach
Victoria Soto
Dawn Hocksprung

As the Church remembers the Holy Innocents on December 28, the nation will remember December 14 as the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents in our time.

When will we as a nation say enough is enough?  When will we as a nation get over our fetishization of guns and violence?  When will we stand up to the arms dealers in our own backyard and say, “No more.”

In the aftermath of yet another slaughter of innocents, many people will turn to God and ask, “Why?”

In the aftermath of yet another slaughter of innocents, God will turn to us and ask, “Why?”

On this Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudette Sunday, Mommy Sunday, may we struggle to find the good news of God in Christ, may we be willing to weep with those who weep, may we have the courage to say, “I don't know why, but I know we are loved,” and may we we find a place to prepare and rejoice in the coming of a Savior who needed our protection.



Miss Jean Brodie | 6:22 PM, December 16, 2012  

Well said.

Lady Anne | 9:55 PM, December 16, 2012  

Today, we read the names and ages of each of these people during the Prayer of the People. About halfway through the list, one of the men put his head down and began to weep. He said later that the 40 young boys in his Cub Scout troop are all six and seven, and it suddenly dawned on his that what he was hearing was half his troop being ripped away. Suddenly very, very personal.

Lord, have mercy. Sometimes I wonder if this free will thing was such a hot idea.

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