How does one react to the terrible act of violence that took place just around the corner from our church? What do we as followers of Christ have to offer those who are suffering?
The last thing I want is for people who are hurting to feel that "the church" is descending upon them with pat answers and glib assurances. Well ... perhaps that is not the last thing I want. The last thing I want is for people to see the church as being entirely absent when the community is in crisis. So I seek to straddle that tension between absence and intrusion.
I don't have many easy answers for people in our neighbourhood. But I can say this to them: when tragedy strikes, God doesn't "take" a life. Violence, or accident, or illness takes lives. God receives lives and sustains them beyond death. I am confident that our soul is released to a greater existance than this one after our earthly life is over, one that is woven through with love and mercy.
And I can say this, too: trusting in God as a constant, present reality has made every part of my life better, even the very hard parts. It is far more important for me to remember that truth than it is to debate or "solve" theological mysteries.
When I look at the number of times our church's Facebook posts have been read and shared over the past day or two, I see that the community doesn't expect us to have all the answers. It needs us to stand at the foot of the cross with those who are suffering, without looking away. Those of us who can hang onto the anchor of faith when the seas are stormy can, it seems, act as lighthouse to those caught up in the waves, and sometimes life jacket, too.
So may our light shine through these dark times, and may we be known as an Easter people in a Good Friday world.
The North Shore Emergency Management Program has added St. Clement's clergy as a resource for those people who are looking for spiritual support in challenging times.