Wednesday, March 7, 2012
I loved having Timmy in my box. My own children have loved going to Build a Bear where they were able to be creative and design a stuffed animal all their own. The idea of carefully selecting a specific bear, or dog, or cat, or dinosaur, filling it up on the inside, adding a heart, and caring for it afterwards is a wonderful way to view God's love for us. In Jeremiah 1:5 the Lord says "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you". Our God calls the stars by name, (Psalm 147:4), we can rest easy in the assurance that before we were born he knew the color of our eyes, the curliness of our hair, and the number of freckles on our nose. And yet, more than all there is to us on the outside, we are formed in God's image, which means we are created with a heart that can be filled with God's love which we are called to share with others.
Timmy's final example to us of God's care for us, is that he can carry little Timmy in his mouth. The Lord loves us just as much after we are born as he did before we were created. No matter what we do, what choices we make, through good times and in bad, God is always there to carry us through.
Thank you, Brian.
I have a had several conversations about the tragedy at Episcopal School of Jacksonville and how we should handle this as parents, especially those of us that are parents of young children. I have a few thoughts that are mine, but I also urge you to speak to any of the priests here at St. Mark's if you need more guidance.
First, I think we have to talk about tragedies like this as a family. I think we sometimes assume younger children are oblivious to the world around them, but children with older siblings will hear things, as will any child who is exposed, as most are, to any news broadcast. The extent of the conversation will depend on the age of your children, but I tend to think answering questions honestly with simple facts is better than trying to pretend nothing happened. Encourage your children to ask questions. When I was a young child, a close friend of my parents with a daughter my age was held hostage and then killed by someone he had fired. I remember being incredibly curious about things like where he was shot, not because of some morbid curiosity, but because at that age I didn't understand death or what caused it. By allowing me to ask questions and talk about what happened my parents helped me process the event at my own speed in my own way.
We need to pray at all times, but especially at times like these. Our children need to see us calling upon the Holy Spirit to be with us and all those involved. It is alright to express our frustrations in prayer, look at many of the Psalms. Our Lord can handle it. It is important to take the time to pray together and to explain that God doesn't cause bad things to happen, but in all the brokenness of this world, in the violence, natural disasters, disease, that God is with us and mourns with us. Tragedy offers us a way to share our faith with the world.
Recognize that there is both evil and forgiveness in this world. Part of the baptismal covenant we make on behalf of our children is that we renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, the evil powers of this world that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God, and the sinful desires which draw us from the love of God. Our children know that there is good and there is bad. Remind them that God calls us to be a light in this world and to renounce what is bad, and yet whenever we fall into sin he will be waiting with open arms for us to repent and ask forgiveness. As Christians we are called upon to pray for those who have been harmed by evil, and for those who have caused the harm. We are called to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. AS the old hymn says, "they will know we are Christians by our love".
I am going to close with one of the prayers we used last night at our prayer service at St. Mark's. The whole service may be found on our website and I encourage you to check it out.
Gracious Lord, the hardest part about being your children is that we don’t get to see the big picture. You see everything. You know how it all turns out in the end. You see the completed puzzle while we sit here with one small piece in our hands and cry. Give us the faith to believe that you have it all under control. Give us the strength to get up and move in the morning. Give us the love to support each other. We want to run into your arms and have you hold us like children. Tell us it’s going to be okay. Hold us, God. It’s lonely down here right now. Amen.