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November 9, 2018

… and some of you they will be put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.
But not a hair of your head will perish.  (Luke 21:16-18, ESV)

Surely this is one of the most puzzling and surprising statements ever made by Jesus. Talking to his disciples about what lies ahead for them, he says it is not pretty: wars, persecutions, opposition, betrayal, prison and, in some cases, death. But don’t worry, he adds. Not a hair of their heads will perish! Clearly, Jesus does not mean that no one is going to be hurt.
Somehow, we need to come to terms with this paradox, for more and more people are feeling afraid as violence grows around us. We are horrified by the senselessness and mercilessness of randomly murdering people in movie theaters, night clubs, schools, synagogues … and church. Could we be next? Are we safe?
Christians, of all people, should be facing life in this world with clarity of thought. It is not – and never has been – a “safe place.” It is a battleground, and as our culture crumbles around us, it is getting less safe. Pastor Sarah Condon puts it well: … what did Jesus teach us about safety? Not much, actually. He taught us a whole lot more about dying. … [After all,] Christians are a group of people who follow a guy who died. On purpose. We are not exempted from living in the same world as everybody else. Instead, we are called to live in it with a different spirit and hope; with the realization that, no matter what happens, we are kept safely in the Lord’s hands, the Lord who laid his life down for us (John 10:15) and promises that no one can “snatch [us] out of [his] hand” (John 10:28).
None of this means that we do not take every precaution that we can to protect our congregation. The same faith that assures us in our suffering also calls us to protect life as best we can. That is why, several years ago, our Management Team began thinking through emergency procedures for all kinds of possible crises … from storms to fires to earthquakes to bomb threats to medical crises to active shooters. They did it with input from police and other safety experts and have trained key leaders in the church on what to do in an emergency. Improvements have also been made in the building. An Emergency Resource Guide has been developed for reference and placed at the Welcome Center and near each phone in lobbies and children’s areas. All of this was being thought through before the recent rash of incidents that have dominated the news in the past couple of years. Of course, it is ongoing, and the Management Team continues to review new information as it becomes available.
We never want to minimize the importance of safety, but we do not want to pretend that there is perfect safety in this world. Both realities reflect our faith and, like many aspects of Christian faith, we hold them in tension. We are not called to become prisoners of our own fears (2 Tim. 1:7) but to live out a spirit of courage, confident that above all else we are held in Greater Hands that will never let us go.

Frankly Speaking ©2018, Frank Boswell | office@huntvalleychurch.org | (410)-771-0690 
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