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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

January 2013

~Without a Guiding Star~


“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,

wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking,

‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Judeans,

for we have seen his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage’.” ~Matthew 2:1, 2



Members and Friends,

               The hope-filled season of Advent was shattered this year by perhaps the greatest “manmade” tragedy in recent history.  The murder of twenty-six schoolchildren and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, has gripped the hearts of people all the world over.  One popular slogan that has arisen out of the trauma of the Sandy Hook School shooting is this: “Teachers stand up to gunman, but Congress won’t stand up to NRA.”  Everyone is looking to our divided and beleaguered Congress—at last—to work out a solution to the gun control problem in this country.  Does it make sense for citizens—even mentally ill citizens—to have access to military assault weapons?  The NRA has been silent about the events at Sandy Hook Elementary.  And the question rapidly becomes politicized, but it’s encouraging to see that people of all political bents are beginning to agree: These shootings must stop.  Perhaps we will finally reach some consensus around this issue.

               The incident that took place in Connecticut is the constant backdrop to life in America right now.  And as I—a preacher—dwell upon these horrific events, wondering how to speak about them from the pulpit, I’m reminded of an ancient story related to Matthew’s Christmas narrative: The Slaughter of the Innocents.  In Matthew 2:13-23, Joseph is warned in a dream to flee from Bethlehem, and to take Mary and the Baby Jesus into Egypt, to escape the murderous reach of King Herod.  The jealous king, in an attempt to prevent any newcomers from dethroning him, murders all the children in Bethlehem two years of age and under.

               Margaret Tinkler wrote a poem that combines the dark side of Matthew’s Christmas story with references to the Sandy Hook shooting, and she dedicated that poem to Bower Hill’s own Josie Sheldon, director and producer of our children’s pageant:


Lost in America

This year Advent is broken.  Right

Ahead of the for our Joy

The slaughter of cradles

inside a Connecticut wood.


The green of the hemlocks

With tiny brown cones; the leafless

tall maples that trace winter skies

Are still without snow.


The mind of King Herod, not content

With time past, arrived from afar.

In the mist of the woods this lackaday king

So ill he was - without a guiding star.

©Margaret Tinkler, written for Josie Sheldon (nee Wright).

               It’s hard to know what to say at times like these, but I believe the poet is right: We’re all lost without a guiding star.  Our prayers are with the people of Newtown, and with our Congress, and with all those who are too ill or too blind to see the bright star that leads us to joy-filled, hope-filled lives.  That same star leads us to worship at a child’s cradle.  Happy Epiphany.                              bsp; bsp;