Then, Super Storm Sandy devastated the east coast and the shooting in Newtown occurred on December 14, 2012. Aurora was lost in the headlines. The advocates in Camden grew in their persistence, adding more crosses to show the year's violence, to preach trauma-informed care in their city, and actively make a difference for hope.
Last spring, I met with several ministers from Newtown. Recounting some of the transformational experiences of the past year and the events that felt most supportive, one minister shared how meaningful his relationships with colleagues in nearby Hartford had become for him. He discussed how grateful he was for their "patience" with him, as he began to learn about their own experiences with gun violence, the ways their congregations were impacted and had grown, the wisdom they had gained, and the severe lack of national supports they received. He found that these fellow ministers understood greatly what his own experiences had been, even as he was just beginning to learn the extent of chronic stress they face continually and learn how to be more of an effective and supportive colleague to them.
This Sunday Christians celebrate the Advent Sunday of Joy. This Sunday also marks the second anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This year, this weekend, many churches and communities around the country are responding to the National Call to Action by creating worship services and other events dedicated to seeking social justice and racial equality in response to events recently in Ferguson, MO, and New York City.
What is joy in a season of heartbreak and deep-rooted social unrest? Liturgically, how do we continue to advocate for and practice truth-telling from our pulpits and around our fellowship centers? What does it look like to lament, seek reconciliation, and find communion together?
We need to keep sharing with each other the ways forward we are finding and the best practices that are making differences for health and healing in our communities.
Rev. Dr. Kate Wiebe