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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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