The Gospel we read in Children’s Chapel this morning (and that we read downstairs in the liturgy, and that was read this morning in every church in the world that follows the Revised Common Lectionary) was Luke 13:31-35, in which the Pharisees warn Jesus that King Herod wants to kill him.
In the Children’s Chapel of our beloved old church – just a few hours and a few miles away from a shooting spree that left six dead and others critically injured – we talked about how King Herod was afraid. Using dry erase boards, we drew what fear looks like and talked about how it makes us feel. How it makes it hard to make space for love. How it makes it hard to think about others. Then we erased our drawings of fear, imagining fear itself being erased by everything the kids thought would counter it: God, love, laughter, community. Then we drew love in its place and felt our world expand. We didn’t do this in response to last night; we did it because it’s the lesson we were called to learn today. We did it because it’s the work Jesus asks us to do.
The Gospels aren’t the only way to teach kids how dangerous it is to live in fear – to stop seeing others as worthy and beloved – but they do teach us that more clearly than anything else I’ve encountered. And in scripture and every single other way we feel called to that lesson, we need to go there. And take our children there. We need to put fear down and pick up one another. Because this work we’re doing together with our small ones? The work of helping them to understand those around them as brothers and sisters in Christ, in precarious and beloved life, in suffering and pain and impossible redemption? It is weighty. It is a burden and a privilege. And it is necessary in the face of senseless and crushing destruction. It is an antidote to a culture that sometimes forgets to remember the sacredness of life.
If your kiddos worshiped with us today, or even if they didn’t, you can find the weekly reflection on how we spent our time together here.
And if you, like me, are grappling tonight with bloodshed in our little city – with a resistance to vulnerability that leads again and again to rage and death – then I see you, and am praying across the miles and the minutes and the hours alongside you. I am reminding us both of these words, taken from our St. Luke’s Lenten prayers and Bishop John Pritchard’s Second Intercessions Handbook:
Somewhere near us, at this moment, and every moment until we’re here again next week, God will be lovingly present to every part of creation, and every person in it. God will be struggling with us, and shaping us; encouraging and persuading us; delighting in us and despairing over us. God will never give up. And because divinity is inexhaustible, in the end God will always succeed.
May we know much more of Jesus’s steadfastness than of Herod’s fear.