It was January, 2001. I was working for FOX 21 in Colorado Spring, CO. It should have been one of the more exciting days in my career as a marketing and promotion manager - a HUGE news story broke...the Texas Seven, a gang of escaped inmates from Texas were located and subsequently captured literally in our back yard!
In December, 2000 the Texas Seven staged an elaborate jail break from a maximum security prison in Texas. They found their way to the front range of Colorado after killing a police officer in eastern Texas. On Saturday, January 20th they were profiled on America's Most Wanted. The next evening owners of a mobile home park in Woodland Park, CO started wondering about some men who had recently checked in. The next day they reported their suspicions to the police and over several hours they were surrounded and captured.
There was just one problem. I was at work in in Colorado Springs, my four children were in Woodland Park, and the only road between me and them was barricaded AND the phone lines into the area were 'temporarily out of order' as well!
All I could think of was that I wanted to get home - to be sure that my children were safe! And yet, I couldn't get to them...the only way home was to go the back way, through Canon City...but to do this meant the difference between a 20 mile drive and a 104 mile journey - some of it on roads barely navigable in good weather, let alone winter!
Tonight, with the news coming out of Newtown, Connecticut, most of us want more than anything to wrap our arms in our children. To hold them in our arms and never let them go!
I don't know that I ever talked with my children about the Texas Seven, or about my fears for them during the afternoon of January 22, 2001. I am not sure that I would advise parents today to talk about it a whole lot, although with 24 hour news and information, we may just have to. There are a number of resources out there for parents of children of all ages to use as we broach the subject of safety in school as well as at home or out in the marketplace. (Here are some resources from the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship)
Parenting is different today from my parents era. We know what is happening around the globe almost instantaneously. News that is horrifying, such as the shooting in Newtown, or the recent discovery of the bodies of kidnapped cousins Elizabeth and Lyric here in Iowa, make us wonder where God is in the midst of all of this.
I can say with great assurance that God is here, we are not alone and it is important that we join together to pray. Yes, pray! Pray for peace, pray for the children...not just our own but all of those who are vulnerable.
We must also pray for wisdom as we consider the crisis that we currently have around mental health care. Resources for those who are vulnerable because of mental health needs are being cut left and right. Healing will come when we care first and foremost for the least and the lost, the orphan and the widow.
This is one of the reasons the 2nd person of the Trinity, Jesus the Christ, came to earth in the first place. The opening lines from his first sermon lay it all out:
As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,
"God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.” (Luke 4:18-21 The Message)
We don't want to think of the harsh realities of death and dying in this 'most wonderful time of the year' and yet, and yet...here we are - face to face with the brokenness of our hurting world. And so we pray, we hold one another close and we remember that God loved us so much that he was willing to enter into our life, our fears, or brokenness.