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Pastor Mark Becker Writes on the Elementary School Shooting in Newtown, Conn.

"It’s Advent, and I know I will get to the spirit of Christmas, but not today," Becker writes. "Today I need Advent and I need to hear a Word of Hope in the midst of a darkened world."

It’s Friday, and generally I’m upbeat and excited to send a message to all of you.

Not today: I’m upset, and I’m angry, and I hurt, and I feel fear.

Again we hear of gun violence that has taken life. This time it is not just one or two, but the latest report I have heard is 20 children and 6 adults in a Connecticut elementary school.

I can hardly think about other things as I am supposed to be working on a sermon ... a sermon on joy.

I am discouraged with a society that thinks everyone should have a gun. I am baffled by the idea that this somehow is a right, and that–with the proper training, etc.-we will all be safer and that handguns or “conceal and carry” laws make sense. 

Last week a grandfather shot his granddaughter as she unexpectedly walked into the house.

A couple of weeks ago, a 4 year old shot a 2 year old and before that some guy executed a couple of teenagers who had broken into his house–all in Minnesota.

Our Twin Cities have numerous incidents of handgun violence, and for some reason, there are those who think this is the very reason that gun laws should not be re-examined.

In fact, as I write this, I am imagining there are some of you out there who don’t like what I am saying. When did the gun become the golden calf of our society, and what does that say about us?

To be absolutely clear, I must say that I am not talking about the guns people use for hunting. But there is a much bigger issue here that somehow gets mixed up with recreational hunting, and this is certainly not that.

In the middle ages, the church bell would toll when someone would die.

Poet John Donne wrote:

“Each man’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind.  Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.”

It tolls today again and again for all of us, including parents and family members of those murdered, including police and paramedics who have had to respond to this tragedy, including a community and an elementary school that will never be the same, including you and me.

It’s Advent, and I know I will get to the spirit of Christmas, but not today.  Today I need Advent and I need to hear a Word of Hope in the midst of a darkened world.

Today, I need especially to remember again the words of Matthew’s Gospel as we are told that Joseph was assured by the angel that the child to be born was the one to be called “’Emmanuel’ – which means God is with us’”.  

Finally might I share a poem/song lyric from the beautiful “Night of Silence” by Daniel Kantor

"Cold are the people, winter of life. 

We tremble in shadows this cold endless night.

Frozen in the snow lie roses sleeping. 

Flowers that will echo the sunrise. 

Fire of hope is our only warmth,

Weary, its flame will be dying soon. 

Voice in the distance, call in the night,

On wind you enfold us, you speak of the light,

Gentle on the ear you whisper, softly,

Rumors of a dawn so embracing.

Breathless love awaits darkened souls,

Soon will we know of the morning.

Spirit among us, shine like the star,

Your light that guides shepherds and kings from afar.

Shimmer in the sky so empty, lonely,

Rising in the warmth of your Son’s love.

Star unknowing of night and day,

Spirit we wait for your Loving Son." 

I’m “weary” of the logic that doesn’t make the connections on days like today.   But one day there will be no need for guns anywhere as the Prince of Peace makes a new day for us all.

“Spirit we wait for your Loving Son.”

In Christ,

-- Pastor Matt Becker, Saint Paul Lutheran Church

Kate Krisik December 15, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Thank you, Pastor Becker, for having the courage and wisdom to speak the truth. We cannot, as a just society, refuse any longer to have a reasonable discussion about violence and passing logical restrictions on gun possession any longer.
Scott in Wisconsin December 15, 2012 at 04:53 PM
To blame the availability of guns rather than the degradation of society in general is folly. The evil in the heart of man is wholly to blame, a gun is only a convienent scapegoat one only has to look toward what has happened in China on the same day of the shootings (a country where guns are not commonly available.) BEIJING A man wielding a knife attacked students Friday at a school in central China, leaving 22 children and one adult injured, according to state-run media reports. The attack occurred at the gate of an elementary school in the village of Chengping, in Henan Province. Police arrested the attacker, who they identified as local resident Min Yingjun, 36. Children as young as six were among those hospitalized after the attack, suffering injuries including slashes to the ears and head. The attack marks the latest in a series of violent assaults at elementary schools in China. In 2010, a total of 18 children were killed in four separate attacks. On March 23 of that year, Zheng Minsheng attacked children at an elementary school in Fujian Province, killing eight. One month later, just a few hours after Zheng Minsheng was executed for his crime, another man, Chen Kanbing wounded 16 students and a teacher in a knife attack at another primary school in Fujian. The following month, on May 12, a man named Wu Huangming killed seven children and two adults with a meat cleaver at a kindergarten in Shaanxi Province
Carrie Brooks December 15, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Thank you Pastor Becker!! I really miss your sermons. Still have not found anyone who compares. -Carrie Brooks
Carbon Bigfuut December 15, 2012 at 11:32 PM
The failure of the courts to keep criminals using guns off the streets is a major driver of people becoming armed to protect themselves. I'm all for turning the other cheek. It's just that I'd like to be alive to do it.
Don Stiff December 16, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Thank you Pastor Becker.

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