The West Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Newtown

A message from Bishop Deb

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5

This upcoming Friday marks the Winter Solstice, the moment in the northern hemisphere when we experience the longest day of darkness during the year.  For many of us, Friday, December 14th will instead feel like the darkest day of 2012.  It was on this quiet Friday morning, in a quaint town in Connecticut, that a young man wearing combat gear and armed with multiple weapons walked into an elementary school and took the lives of 20 little children and 6 adults who cared for them.

For the loved ones of those killed in Newtown Connecticut we struggle to find ways to express our deep collective grief and anguish over this senseless loss of innocent life.   We mourn the loss of all these Children of God whose promising futures ended so abruptly.  We mourn the loss of innocence and feelings of security in our communities.  We mourn the loss of feelings of joy, celebration and goodwill in this Advent season, overshadowed by a dark event.   

For the victims and all those impacted by this tragedy in Newtown, we pray that God surrounds and comforts them as they try to cope with such incomprehensible loss.  We also pray for the young man that was responsible for creating this pain on Friday.  Help us understand how he could commit such a senseless act to deal with his own personal darkness.

In times of grief, we are reminded that darkness is no match for light.  As the 1677 hymn “Christ is the World’s Light” proclaims, “Christ is the world’s light, Christ and none other; born in our darkness, he became our brother. No one can serve him and despise another. Who else unites us, one in God the Father?”

For, I am reminded that as people of light, we are drawn to follow the illumination given freely to us in the form of a savior born over 2000 years ago.  The promise of a new life, free from sin.  The promise of unconditional love and forgiveness.   The promise of a light that can shatter any darkness.  

Today, we pray that the light of Jesus Christ reaches the hurting people of Newtown and the hearts of all of us who need to feel God’s love.


Bishop Deborah Lieder-Kiesey
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