Newtown Congregational Church
Photos by Eric Anderson
by Eric Anderson
NEWTOWN (12/17/2012) -- Hundreds, if not thousands, of houses of worship held vigils and prayer services in the hours and days after a gunman killed twenty-seven people in Newtown and then himself on Friday, December 14. Twenty-six were slain in the Sandy Hook Elementary School: the school principal, the school psychologist, four teachers, and twenty children aged six and seven.
There are not enough prayers for such a loss.
Standing before a tall and gorgeous Christmas tree, with a profusion of teddy bears spread beneath it, Newtown Congregational Church UCC pastor the Rev. Matthew Crebbin told those assembled that God loses and forgets no one. "Even in the most difficult of circumstances, God's care, God's response, is one of love. One of grace."
The Christmas story, he reminded them, is not one where human beings found God, but one in which "God finds us."
"Tonight we need to trust that God can find not only each of us, but every person who is hurting and broken in this community, every child that was lost, every child of God that was lost. God finds us. God is with us."
At the First Church of Christ Congregational UCC in Bethany, every pew was filled for a community prayer service co-led by pastor the Rev. Caroline Murphy, Episcopal clergyman the Rev. Dexter Cheney, and First Selectman Derrylyn Gorski. Among the prayers they raised was that of Saint Francis, asking God to make us instruments of peace.
On Sunday evening, Crebbin offered welcome to Sandy Hook families, staff, first responders, and public officials on behalf of the Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association, of which he is coordinator. Noting that none of those leading the service were seated on stage, but had taken seats on the floor of the high school auditorium. "We are all in this together," he said. "We will sigh for our sorrow but we will care for each other."
Today, the first of the dead were laid to rest: 6-year-olds Jack Pinter and Noah Pozner. Others -- too many, too soon -- will follow.
The Rev. Eric S. Anderson is Minister of Communications and Technology for the Connecticut Conference UCC.