As the grief-stricken people of Newtown, Conn. begin laying to rest the littlest victims of the school massacre, the UCC faith community is holding them in their prayers.
The Rev. Matt Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church appeared on NBC's Today Show Monday morning to talk about how the loss of twenty first-graders and six teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a very personal loss to all the members of his small town community.
"I think from my experience, even in smaller moments of grief, people need to be together. Just for the sake of touch, and connection. There is something that is healing about just being together."
Crebbin gave the opening remarks at the prayer service held at Newtown High School last night. He said that it's important for those grieving loss "to know that people are with them, to know that they are not alone."
The Newtown pastor also told Savannah Guthrie that he believes faith is an important source of solace to those who are grieving. And that even in the midst of sorrow, the knowledge that God is with us can bring comfort.
"For people of faith, joy is something we are held in because we know that God is with us, in the midst of even in the most awful of circumstances."
The Rev. Virginia Lohmann Bauman, of St John's Church UCC in Columbus, Ohio planned to preach an Advent sermon prepared on the lectionary text for the day, until she learned about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Rev. Bauman said, "One of my responsibilities as your resident theologian at St. John's is to at least attempt to make some sense of the senseless in our world. It is my duty to preach, as a famous theologian once said, with the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper – now smart phone -- in the other."
She then asked for helpers to hold more than two dozen symbols representing those who were killed Friday morning. "Jesus wept. Let us all join the fellowship of weeping in heaven and earth for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting."
The Rev. Casey Baggott, co-pastor of the Community Church of Vero Beach, Fla. posted a pastoral prayer for Sandy Hook on the website of the weekly national radio broadcast "Day 1," writing "Let us claim in our efforts to be present to and for one another in this time of need, that you are present among us. And that in your presence we may come to trust that the incomprehensible will somehow, someday be shaped by your great wisdom."
As churches around the country continue to reach out in prayer to the people of Newtown, Crebbin reminds us: "Even in this most challenging time, and it is a challenging time, we don't want to diminish that, and we want (others) to know that it will take a long time for many of our people to heal. And that for many of us, our lives will never be the same."
Read a related story, Candles, Tears and Prayers, on the UCC Connecticut Conference website.