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Preaching through heartbreak: Newtown

Preachers and hearers, please feel free to post the sermons you preached and heard in the forum below.


Many of us preachers are having a second look at our sermons this morning (or rethinking the sermon we were going to write tonight), in response to the shooting of 20 children and 6 adults at a school in Newtown, CT yesterday.

It is at times like this I want to cry, “There is nothing to say. Just stop talking and listen to the silent sound of hearts breaking.” And, yet, dear preachers, it is our task to speak. And, so, what do we say?

One challenge in preaching in the face of tragedy is to not let the events turn into a sermon illustration. For example, to say, “These tragic events remind us during the season of Advent that we live in a world in need of a Saviour,” is taking a tragic event to make our own point about Advent. There is enough of that in social media this weekend, using these events for political ends, seeking for a quick answer. Let’s resist that temptation. I confess I am hitting the delete button a lot this morning as I am tempted to offer simplicity.

To add to the challenge this particular Sunday, many of our worship services tomorrow will begin with lighting the pink candle of Joy. This is the Sunday we begin to look up and look east because the time is near. To try to make a point about joy might seem pretty empty and a stretch. My friend, the Rev. Daniel Graves, speaks of this in his homily for tomorrow, A Sword Shall Pierce Your Own Soul, Too.

Usually, I resist the temptation to tell my own stories or use my experience as sermon fodder. I spent too much of my childhood learning too much information about my pastors. However, this is a Sunday when we grieve alongside our people, so sharing your own heart is entirely appropriate.

Where is your preaching heart leading you today? Are you seeing a light piercing the darkness? What images are piercing through tomorrow’s readings?

Dawn Leger

About Dawn Leger

I am a priest in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, having served in Stouffville, Ontario. I think preaching is a profound and great privilege granted to us by God and our Church. I love the reading, the writing, the proclaiming, the dissecting and the dialogue. I also love to cook, sing, read and laugh, in no particular order.

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0 Responses to Preaching through heartbreak: Newtown

  1. I was particularly struck by the image on the television of the church in that town filled with people keeping vigil, standing side by side in prayer, sharing with one another the light of Christ which brightens every darkness. That’s Advent; that’s community in the truest sense of the word; light in midst of darkness … hope in midst of despair … healing where there is brokenness … the coming of Emmanuel, God with us … even and especially into all that threatens to bring us down & diminish our faith. And that service of vigil and prayer I understand was planned immediately when the news broke. The invitation to gather in church together. Profound and hopeful for me.

  2. Agreed. The rose candles will not be lit with any sense of irony, because joy, for us, is another already-by-not-yet thing. Swords will be beaten into ploughshares. Joy will come. Our hope is in what’s just around the corner (and already here, whether we can see it or not).

  3. Dawn Leger

    It’s not finished, but I am starting my sermon by reading Matthew 2:13-18, with the massacre of the innocents. Then I hear the crowds and John the Baptist discussing what we do, “in the meantime” while we wait for the Messiah.

  4. Prayers for you Dawn and all of who preach tomorrow.


  5. Dawn Leger

    I preached twice this morning, and before I preached I took a moment to pray for all who were preaching. It was a beautiful and profound community of preachers this weekend online, as we all struggled with our authentic grief and finding ways to share hope even as we were seeking it ourselves.


    Here are my words from this morning; Jesus, John the Baptist and the Innocents.

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