Once again we have a school shooting and it breaks my heart to hear more children have been killed. Sometimes it feels like there is darkness all around us. Most people say they are praying for the families, emergency and rescue workers as well as the medical teams who work tirelessly to save, repair and console the injured who have experienced this tragedy. Often times when the world seems dark, chaotic and out of control, I open my Bible to the first chapter of John, verse 5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Why? In a world of evil, fear, and desperation I need light and hope. For me, Jesus is the light and hope that shines into the world. How does Jesus bring the light into a sometimes dark world? Simply by his constant and abiding love for us. A love so great it overcomes all of the dark places in which we find ourselves. We have just entered into the Lenten season in which we focus on his death and resurrection. In this tragic time of sorrow, confusion and frustration we can walk alongside of Christ on his journey to the cross filled with unbelievable pain, betrayal and death.
As we stood in the Sacred Pit, our pastor suggested that we sing the old Afro-American spiritual hymn, “Were You There?” The verses have a rhythm that ask the same questions for each verse; “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” The first verse is followed by 3 more that ask the same question, “Were you there when they”: “nailed him to the tree, pierced him in the side; and lastly, when they laid him in the tomb?” With our voices raised in song in that very small room, it was not only hard to sing those words but to even breathe imagining the outcome of the final hours for Jesus.
My time in the pit has affected me so greatly, that I will not read the biblical story about the trial of Jesus or sing that hymn in the same way again. This profound moment for me in the pit makes the journey of Jesus to the cross real. He suffered greatly for something that was not his fault which can be said for the parents and children of this week's tragic school shooting. My heart aches for them. My spirit weeps for them. Even as I pray for them, words escape me yet the Spirit of Light finds the words deep within my heart. That Spirit of Light is Jesus. He knows tragedy, injustice, hurt, pain and misery and holds these families in his hands as they mourn the loss of their precious children. I cannot imagine what they must be experiencing. So I will offer this to the students and parents of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School... I am with you in prayer. I will listen to your pain and outrage. I will mourn with you. I am in the pit with you. For you and all who are suffering, I will hold the “light that shines in the darkness” to help show you the way out of the darkness of despair to the One of hope. The darkness will not overcome the light!