Dear beloved people of St. Nicholas,

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where 27 were killed, most of whom were young children. I’ve only just now seen the news myself, as I was away from TV and the computer most of the day.

As a father with kids the same age as those who have died, I’ve just sat here and wept. Bronwyn and Liam crawled into my lap, knowing something was wrong, and I thought about the parents who sent their children to school this morning, zipping up coats and tying shoes for the last time, not knowing the horror of what the day held. I can’t stop thinking about those parents right now.

These actions bring about all kinds of reactions: deep sadness, anger, hatred, confusion, thoughts of ways this atrocity could have been prevented. I would challenge you to turn off your TV and refrain from listening to the “experts” who are paid to exploit your emotions in these hours. I challenge you to stay away from debates on social media about gun control or whatever else, which steal our focus away from pain we all feel and divide us.

Instead, I invite you tonight to gather your family in a common place in your home. Hold hands and pray for God’s mercy and love to break through this situation. Pray for the families of those who have died, the survivors of the tragedy, the faculty and staff of the school, and the communities most affected by this. Pray in thanksgiving for the families we have and embrace one another during this time. Draw close to one another as our nation grieves this tragedy together.

On Sunday, we will pray as a church community for these circumstances. Please be present to offer your prayers with us. For now, here is a prayer from our Burial Office that may guide your thoughts and conversations with God and your family:

O God, whose beloved Son took children into his arms and blessed them: Give us grace to entrust the children of Newtown, CT and the adults who died with them, to your never-failing care and love, and bring us all to your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Peace be with you,