EMU President Loren Swartzendruber, D.Min.

Shocked Beyond Words by Sandy Hook… We Must Pray and Act

Dear Community and Friends of EMU:

All of us in the EMU community mourn with the families and community of Newtown, Connecticut. We are shocked beyond words and we struggle to know how to pray and act, but we must pray (even if in silence) and we must act.

Something is horribly wrong in a society where little children and others regularly fear for their lives. While we are understandably drawn into the story of a mass shooting like this one, let us never forget that many in our nation and around the world are grieving for lost loved ones every single day. May God give us all wisdom and courage to be agents of shalom!

I commend three statements for your reflection: the first by our Vice President and Seminary Dean, Dr. Michael King; the second by Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace laureate and a master’s degree alumna of EMU; and the third posted prior to this tragedy by Mennonite Central Committee, announcing an initiative titled “Fear not: Seek peace in our communities.”

Dear Seminary Community,

With the rest of you, I’ve been feeling my way through Friday’s terrible news. It has been hard to know what if anything to say amid such a horrifying mix of deaths of children combined with what seems our country’s omnipresent temptation to turn anything these days into political warfare.

But one biblical text has kept coming to me, that of Rachel in Ramah weeping for her children. After seeing it referenced this morning for the third time or so, I thought maybe worth passing on the latest encounter with it, this one offered by Mark Galli in Christianity Today.

As Galli puts it, “we live in a world where Rachel weeps for her children. Where mothers wail and fathers curse because their children are no more. Where friends go mute, and bloodied children stand shocked, and a nation mourns, and a President weeps – for 20 innocent children in Connecticut.”

My fallible take on the rest of Galli’s column is that it eloquently offers us pertinent theological and social commentary but risks not quite getting us from the “Enough is enough” of the “Innocent One,” as he puts it, to the changes required for the enough is enough of Christ the prince of peace to ripple out into the social fabric of a nation in which Rachel is weeping far too often.

To say more now risks adding to the political toxins. But I do hope and pray that at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, at Eastern Mennonite University, and in our congregations and other sites of ministry and scholarship, we can seek ways to mourn, to experience a God who with Rachel and all bereft parents weeps in Ramah and in Newtown, and to discern what “Enough is enough” calls us to as individuals, Christians involved in serving and leading or training for it, and participants in or critics of our culture.

Blessings amid the sorrow,
Michael A. King, PhD.

-President Loren Swartzendruber, DMin.

Discussion on “Shocked Beyond Words by Sandy Hook… We Must Pray and Act

  1. So many people are forgetting to mention the SIX adults who also got shot and died in this horror story….

    1. Probably because as horrible and senseless as any killing is, utterly defenseless children dying in this fashion is completely unfathomable and horrific!

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