Last week, Pastor Scarlett mentioned the painful reality that our children find school lockdowns and potential active shooter situations just a part of school.  This was evident again watching the news coverage of the shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California. The students calmly walked down the sidewalk. Their faces were not etched with the fear and horror that was so evident after events like Columbine.  We now tend to only recognize a few of the schools that have experienced such a tragedy. Columbine was unimaginable because these events just didn’t happen. Sandy Hook shook us to the core because it was an attack on young children. Marjory Stoneman Douglas remained in the news because of controversy and the students’ activism.


I talked to someone who had been through a recent active shooter training at a college campus. (Do you still remember Virginia Tech?) They were told come out of the building and lay face down until the active shooter is taken into police custody or more likely commits suicide. They were also told that if they were able to disarm a shooter, put a trash can over the gun and sit on the trash can, DO NOT hold the gun.  The instructions make sense in today’s world, but there was a time that we were not told to approach police as if we were the criminal. 


We live in a broken world shattered by gun violence, but not a world without hope.


Last Sunday, I lead a training on our Safe Sanctuaries policy. Safe Sanctuary policies are required and expected by the conference and by our insurance company. The comment that I most often hear is that we’ve done this before. Our revised policy was approved during the October Church Council meeting. We look at it each year and make adjustments.  The policy now addresses vulnerable adults, electronic communication, and social media. We now require training EVERY year and background checks every 3 years.


As one of my history teachers pointed out, new rules are made because something happened. Churches were naive or in denial about the risk to our children and children were harmed. Now children are at risk in new and different ways. We continue to adapt to prevent harm to anyone – children, youth, vulnerable adults, and volunteers.  


We need people who are trained and ready to volunteer.  Last night, the fall session of Strong Kids Club began with 55 children and 23 adult volunteers. Each time they are the same ones. We need nursery helpers during each service and during the Sunday School hour. The same people who were at church last night are the same ones that are asked to serve in the nursery. Many hands make light work.  We need many volunteers with training and background checks, and for our congregation to understand the policy. Watch for more details about the next training session in February 2020. 


We live in a broken world where tears flow when children are not protected, but not in a world without hope.


This week, I will begin facilitating a grief group. Those who are struggling with their grief are welcome to come and discuss the process of grief. We will most likely laugh and cry as we help each other live into a new phase of life.


We live in a broken world that sometimes feels empty or lonely, but not a world without resurrection hope.


Today, we heard Isaiah proclaim for the second time, that God is creating a new heaven and a new earth. That God is going to usher in a time of stability and peace. The first time Isaiah proclaimed this was to people facing coming exile. This time Isaiah is offering the reassurance to those returning to their destroyed homeland. Their world was broken. The place where they believed God resided was destroyed. Yet, they went back and started over.


We aren’t the only ones to live in a broken world, but we can choose to cling to Isaiah’s promise that is repeated in Revelation and take action to make our world more like this vision or we can allow our world to become even more broken. We can speak out against gun violence, address gun safety, and value mental healthcare. We can be trained, provide a safe space for the most vulnerable, and create a culture of caring for all. We don’t have to wait to start embracing the promise of a different world. 


We already live in a world with hope!


Grace and peace,

Pastor Laura