The news this morning blared forth the terrible events surrounding another mass casualty shooting at a High School in Florida. Fresh from Ash Wednesday and the Stations of the Cross, I could not help but hear the echoes from the liturgy last evening--Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. Create in us clean hearts, O God, and renew a right spirit within me…
At the Fourth Station of the Stations of the Cross, Jesus meets his afflicted mother. The liturgy from the Book of Occasional Offices of the Episcopal Church reads, “To what can I liken you, to what can I compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What likeness can I use to comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For vast as the sea is your ruin. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended…. A sword will pierce your own soul also: And fill your heart with bitter pain.” My meditation reads, “Mary, who had given birth to Jesus, now saw him on his way to death. All the hopes and dreams she had for her child must have seemed hopeless. To watch the pain of those we love is harder to bear than our own. We are called to hold them close in prayer, giving them into the hands of God.”
At the Eighth Station, Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem: “There followed after Jesus a great multitude of the people, and among them were women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. Those who sowed with tears: Will reap with songs of joy.” My meditation reads: Healthy families grow as we admit, confess, and repent of sinful behaviors, asking God’s grace to amend our ways, so that the results of our sin may not become patterns of behavior learned by our vulnerable children.
Let us pray. (Silence) Teach your Church, O Lord, to mourn the sins of which it is guilty, and to repent and forsake them; that, by your pardoning grace, the results of our iniquities may not be visited upon our children and our children’s children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
At the Thirteenth Station, The body of Jesus is placed in the arms of his mother, “All you who pass by, behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow. My eyes are spent with weeping; my soul is in tumult; my heart is poured out in grief because of the downfall of my people. “Do not call me Naomi (which means Pleasant), call me Mara (which means Bitter); for the
Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. Her tears run down her cheeks: And she has none to comfort her. My meditation reads: When Jesus was taken from the cross, Mary was there to catch him, cradle him, and weep for her child and for all the children of the world who die before their time.
Let us pray. (Silence) Lord Jesus Christ, by your death you took away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you and wake up in your likeness; for your tender mercies’ sake. Amen.
As still another community buries children, and mourns the passing of teachers and staff who put themselves in harm’s way, may we join with the Church and people of faith throughout the world to pray for peace; for the protection of communities large and small, for those whose lives are deeply touched by emotional and mental illness; and for all first responders and clergy who have and will support the citizens of their community deep in grief and shock.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you are the “Prince of Peace,” and through you all healing comes: may your grace rest upon those whose lives have been torn apart by violence, by death, and by grief. Give strength to those called to support and uphold parents in their grief, the community members in shock, and the students whose sense of security has been broken. To the injured, give your hope; to the dying, give your peace; to the dead, eternal rest; and grant that your wisdom may inspire those who work for justice and peace in this and every community; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Anne+ is the Rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Lappans. She says,