Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In December days, you remember - re-live, perhaps - the catastrophe, the killing of twenty children and six adults at school. Children and adults you know and love, in a school your children attend, in a town you call home. A tragedy that will always be part of who you are.
The days leading up to an anniversary of loss are days when we feel more fragile, days when our bones hurt and a heaviness lays upon us. Our souls are more tender, our wounds more raw. They are days when, also, we may be more spiritually aware of the surprising presence of God with us in our pain, the surprising love and accompaniment of our companions in faith.
I join you now some eight years after 2012, and I will never know what it was to be here at that time, to endure what you endured. I remember my tears that would not stop at a hastily-gathered vigil of prayer at the Episcopal Church I then called home. I remember even the shawl I drew close around me, seeking comfort as I prayed with all of you from afar.
As I listen, now, to sacred stories you share with me of that time, I grow in awareness of the ongoing impact of 12/14 – and of the tremendous outpouring of love and support you received from far and wide.
This past weekend, we prepared to celebrate the 2nd Sunday of Advent with our virtual life-streaming worship. We also prepared to create a video offering for a virtual Service of Remembrance organized by the Newtown Interfaith Council. On Saturday night, two surprising things happened.
First, Jesus showed up on the front steps of the church. The traveling statue of Jesus as a homeless man, a man of sorrows, a suffering servant. He has visited before, and I suspect he times his visits to coincide with this anniversary. Jesus sits on the top step, wrapped in a blanket, the mark of a crucifying nail visible in his outstretched hand. I am strangely comforted that this vision of Christ is physically with us at this time.
Second, I received an email from Trinity Episcopal Church in Southport. A member of that parish had driven to Newtown in the storm to leave us a lovely wreath, decorated with 26 roses. Every year, they remember Newtown, and they pray, with us. We were able to display their gift in our filmed remembrance. I will share their email here.
“Trinity Southport honors the lost children and adults of Newtown each year without exception at this time. We pray for them during our services, our pulpit adorned with a wreath bearing twenty white roses and six red roses in their memory. (The wreath itself is commissioned annually by David and Judy Nessel, beloved parishioners here. It was the conception of their daughter, Amy, quite ill of the cancer that was to take her, during the year of your tragedy.)
The wreath for 2020 is at your Trinity now, placed at the top of the outside steps that go to the back entrance of the church. We hope you receive it in the spirit of love and hope and warmth with which it is given. Retired Bishop Suffragan Jim Curry blessed it and the memories you all are living this morning just after the pre-recording of our virtual service for Sunday. The service, with the Bishop’s important and hopeful sermon addressing the issue, will be posted on the Trinity Southport YouTube and FaceBook pages at some point tomorrow afternoon.
Trinity Southport shares with your parish, with Bishop Curry, and with many others belief in the necessity to work to curtail gun violence.”
Friends, we are not alone in our remembering. We are surrounded and upheld by the prayers of so many good people of faith; people who are witnessing and advocating on our behalf for policy changes so this pain does not need to happen to other communities.
I invite you to find comfort in the presence of Christ, acquainted with suffering, and the loving accompaniment of untold others, seen and unseen, as we walk through December days.
May God bless you and keep you, and bring healing,
Rev. Andrea Castner Wyatt
The Rev. andrea castner wyatt
The Rev. Andrea Castner Wyatt is honored to accept the call of Trinity Episcopal Church to serve and lead as Rector. She looks forward with joy to walking with the people of Trinity Church, and to discovering with you what Jesus is up to in Newtown, CT. Contact Rev. Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 203-426-9070.