O Most High, when I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I am not afraid; what can flesh do to me? – Psalm 56:2b-4 (NRSV)
How do we even begin to put into words what a frightening and difficult time it is for parents and children? Beyond the normal challenges plus the challenges of covid times, the threat of shootings seems ever-present. How many in just the past few weeks? Can we even put into words the trauma that comes from needing to have active shooter drills, not just as a formality but because it is all too common of an experience? It is not just the shootings themselves, but also the other incidents where it is a possibility. This past week word went out about a potential threat at one of the Moorestown schools. I do not know anything more about the incident than what is reported in the Moorestown Patch account of it, but it is reported there that a student made threats against a middle school. The threats were deemed not credible, but that did not lessen the fear that many parents and students felt when they heard about it.
I have no easy solution to offer. I don’t know of any magic words that can wipe the fear or the sense of threat away. What I can offer is being here. If you are someone you know is struggling in the midst of these dangers of gun violence, know that I am available. Please, come talk with me. I can sit with you in the difficulty of this time. I can listen, I can pray, I can question with you where God is at in the midst of these days. Hear this again: I am available. This is true for church members, but also if you know of other children or parents outside of our congregation that are having a hard time with this and need someone to listen to them. I can talk about God as much or as little as feels appropriate to them.
So much of scripture speaks to the courage we find in God in the midst of a world full of danger that seems set against us. The Psalms in particular are full of struggling with persecution and threats, with a hopeful declaration that God is somewhere in the midst of turbulent situations. These are words of faith and trust, but they do not explain where to find God in these situations. There’s no easy formula for doing that. It is a matter of recognizing the anxiety we carry and sitting with it and being listened to. In that process of speaking and listening, we begin to be able to discern how to live amidst the anxiety and perhaps even recognize God’s presence. Again, there are no easy answers here, but there is a space of hope. Know that I am available to walk with you in that space if you need support in finding that way forward. May Christ’s peace be with you. Amen.