Shootings in a local hospital…a murder/suicide. Gunshots in a nearby mall…no one is hurt. Both of these places I had considered safe until a few days ago. Both are places where I have taken my grandchildren when they have visited Florida.
I remember taking them to see their grandpa while he was in that very hospital, just down the block from where he lived in a retirement home. I would have never dreamt that such a visit might put them in harm’s way.
And, a few years ago, when Webkinz became all the rage, we made a visit to Citrus Park Mall because that had the only store in the area that carried these toys. While we were they, they rode the two-story carousel before having lunch at a retro diner that served milkshakes.
Just two years ago, I took my granddaughters to see the new Hunger Games movie at our local theater. Less than two months later, there was a shooting there. A retired cop was annoyed at a man texting, and shot him dead in cold blood, and injured his wife. His defense: “Stand Your Ground.” I haven’t been back to this movie theater since this senseless killing there.
I try to live my life based on faith and not fear. But these senseless murders so nearby my lovely suburban home in a quiet upscale neighborhood have shaken me a bit. Where is safe anymore? If this trend continues, even a quick trip to the supermarket could end up costing me my life.
So I have asked myself, where do I feel safe? I long to find safe places in a world gone mad. I do feel safe in my own home, and in my neighborhood, but even here I could be vulnerable.
I once read a book called: “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” by Dr. Susan Jeffords. It is based on a course that she taught at the New School for Social Research. She offers readers a way to replace their fears with an attitude of strength and convictions by going through various exercises. While I found it helpful, there is nothing that helps me more in facing my fears than the scripture quote: “Fear Not.”
There are numerous scripture stories that include the message: “Fear not.” At this time of year, I remember especially the message of the Angel Gabriel, when he announced to Mary that she was chosen to conceive and bear a son, the Son of the Most High. (Luke 1:26-38)
Nine months later, Mary gave birth to her son. And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, when an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were afraid. They were told to fear not…I bring you good news of great joy. Unto you this day is born “Christ the Lord.” And they went to see the newborn babe, and glorified God for all that they had witnessed. (Luke 2:1-20).
These stories bring me comfort and joy as thoughts turn to the season of Advent, the four weeks in the church year just before Christmas. During this time we focus on the true meaning of Advent and Christmas… waiting, with hope, for Light to break into our world…a world that at times seems to have gone mad. In faith I know that God will break through the madness, to shine Light into our lives, and to calm our hearts and minds, and to bring us Peace which passes all understanding. Amen.