Alligators, Gorillas, Shootings

“Alligators, gorillas, shootings, presidential election…omg. Nothing is safe for my children!”

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook this morning. I immediately wanted to reply with some kind platitudes. But the world is way too complex. Instead I write this letter to all parents and people of faith.

Dear Friends,

1. It is okay to grieve and lament the pain, suffering, and evil in the world. Share tears, hugs, and silence together. Your own love and compassion is soaking into the lives of your children. They know that God hears and wipes those tears.
Give ear to my words, O Lord:give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray.
Psalm 5: 1-2

2. Fight hatred with love. Fight boundaries with community. Fight suffering with compassion.
You my friends are already doing that, when you introduce yourself to a stranger at the playground, when you give food to the food shelf without worrying if the recipient “deserves it”, when you are kind to an angry colleague, or when you listen to the story of someone who sees things differently. Your children see how you treat others.

3. Gather with others to hear God’s promises of hope, love, and grace.
The highlight of this unsettling week for me has been Vacation Bible School. Kids, youth, and adults gather to sing, hear, and say: God loves you just the way you are! Yesterday was lost sheep day and we reminded each other that Jesus will do ANYTHING and go ANYWHERE to draw us back into his arms. NOTHING can keep anyone away from God’s love—not alligators, gorillas, shootings, or political campaigns.

On Sunday we will read the Bible story in Luke 8:26-39. We discover what great lengths Jesus goes in love. Notice Jesus crossing the boundaries of race and religion as he crosses the Sea of Galilee. Notice Jesus isn’t worried about boundaries of acceptance as he goes to a cemetery to visit a psychotic man. Notice Jesus responds with healing and love then sends him back to his own community to tell what God has done.

4. Live fully today. Find hope, beauty, music, joy, arts, love and all the blessings of this earthly life while you can. Life is fragile and a precious gift.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.
Psalm 5:11

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