Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled,
because they are no more.”
This year, however, the death of the innocents came all too close to home. We could not help feeling the pain and the loss when the news came of 20 young children in Newtown, Connecticut being shot in their class room by an unstable man with a high capacity assault rifle. All of the children were 6 or 7 years old. For days the news of the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School filled our TV screens. The President visited the town and spoke to the community and the nation at a prayer vigil for those children and adults who lost their lives. Funerals were held and the nation mourned along with the Connecticut families whose children were taken away in an instant.
Much has been written in recent days dealing with these very questions of how could this happen and what can we do now? While the story recalled by the Coventry Carol at Christmas can be neatly explained by an evil king with an army at his disposal, our tragedy is not so simple. Rather than wringing our hands and saying, “Oh, how evil this is,” we must address the systemic flaws in our country that make us more susceptible to gun violence than any other industrialized nation. Many innocents died this December because we have a woefully inadequate mental health system, and we have woefully glorified the use and ownership of guns. These are problems that can be addressed if we have the courage to change our ways.
Here are a few articles that have been written in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy:
- 'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother': A Mom's Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America by Liz Long
- Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States by Ezra Klein
- A Culture That Condones The Killing OfChildren And Teaches Children To Kill by Lucinda Marshall
- In the Wake of Another Mass Shooting, Let's Talk About America's Dangerously Gutted Mental Healthcare System by Lynn Stuart Parramore
- Do We Have the Courage to Stop This? By Nicholas Kristof
- When the Second Amendment EnablesTerrorism: Why Killing Children Isn’t a Well-Regulated Militia by David R. Henson
- "I Am Adam Lanza's Psychiatrist": A Response from the Mental Health Trenches to "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother"
- Christians must not let the Christmas lights go out this dark December by Rabbi Jonathan Miller
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For this liturgical day to call to mind the Holy Innocents, here is a prayer from the church liturgy:
A Prayer To The Holy Innocents
Holy Innocents, you were killed because one man
was filled with hatred, pray for those who hate that God may touch their hearts and fill them with love.
Holy Innocents, you experienced a violent death, pray for all who are affected by violence that they may find peace and love.
Holy Innocents, your parents grieved for you with deep and lasting sorrow, pray for all parents who have lost young children that God may wrap a warm blanket of comfort around them.
Holy Innocents, those around you certainly felt helpless to prevent your deaths, pray for all who feel helpless in their circumstances that they may cling to God for courage and hope.
Holy Innocents, you who are now in Heaven, pray for all of us that one day we may join you there to bask in God's love forever.