In the wake of the terrible attacks in Parish last week, I heard many strident voices calling for revenge, counter-attack, and more violence. Those voices did not give me any comfort or reassure me that the world would become safer. Three other voices gave me hope and calmed me. They called me to remember the power of our God made present in the goodness of kind and peaceful people.
First, our brothers and sisters in the Bruderhof, a Christian community, reminded me that Christmas is still coming, and no terrorist can change that. “Belonging to the Christmas message are the well-known words of Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ These two things – love and light – should spur us all to action.”
Second, dear Mr. Roger’s voice told me the advice he learned as a child from his own mother: “For me, as for all children, the world could have come to seem a scary place to live. But I felt secure with my parents, and they let me know that we were safely together whenever I showed concern about accounts of alarming events in the world. There was something else my mother did that I've always remembered: ‘Always look for the helpers," she'd tell me. ‘There's always someone who is trying to help.’"
A small boy in his father’s arms was interviewed in Paris the day after the shootings. The child told the reporter how frightened he was of the bad people with guns. His father pointed to all the people laying gathering to pay their respects at the make-shift memorial and said “They might have guns, but we have flowers.” The power of the goodness in the world is stronger than fear.
We must be the helpers. My ministry with families is one contribution I can make to build a more peaceful world. I do this work because I am a follower of Jesus, who calls me to care for all God’s people, especially anyone who is hurting or marginalized. We are responsible for one another. I believe in the importance of families to be safe and loving places for their members and for all of society. I also recognize that living in a family is not easy. I believe in the importance of educating members of the Christian community, lay people and clergy, about what our Church really teaches -- about marriage, family life, and the dignity of every person-- so that they can help and not do harm by indifference, prejudice, or ignorance.