As I began to pray for God's protection in our schools, I stopped. How could I ask for God to protect our schools, when he is not very welcome in them? He's largely been kicked out of the public school system under the guise of tolerance for all beliefs. In most public schools, there is no Lord's Prayer, no Biblical model of sexuality proposed, no mention of the possibility of intelligent design or "Great Creator" in the name of science, and in many schools this season, the word "Christmas" is erased from the vocabulary and Santa and winter are celebrated while the nativity story is outlawed.
Instead, I prayed for guardian angels around children, for our education system and administrators to wake up and examine their beliefs and choices, and for passionate, Jesus-following teachers to bring light and love to their classrooms and staff rooms. We can't shut God out of our schools and expect Him to protect them (please do not read me saying that the Sandy Hook tragedy had a direct correlation with a lack of godly values or anything...it sounds like it was an amazing school with amazing kids and staff). We must invite God back into our schools. There are too many tragedies taking place in all levels of education. History keeps on repeating itself. Leaders need to take a deeper look at the decisions that have been made to keep God out, the Bible closed, and Christ and Christmas removed. Are we really any better off?
Is there really any harm in allowing the Lord's Prayer to be spoken and Bible study groups to exist (apparently this is still allowed outside instructional time, but no one is told this). Is there any harm in presenting a Biblical model of sexuality that promotes oneness, intimacy, and faithfulness, in addition to other options for protecting against unwanted pregnancy and STD's? Is there any harm in taking a serious look at various hypotheses for our origins and learning how science does or does not support them? Is there truly any harm in calling Christmas by its name and telling the whole story of how it came to be that we celebrate it (that it's not just for retailers to make more money) and how people around the world celebrate it?
What has happened to the system we rely on to educate our children that it is afraid of allowing children to learn different perspectives on issues as important as these? How will our children learn critical thinking skills if certain information is always censored out? I need to ask myself the same question. Fear is a powerful force that can brainwash us to believe that control is the answer. Fear whispers, "What if (my) children believe something different from what I believe?" One of God's greatest gifts to us was freedom of choice. We all value free will. Can our education system open the door to God again?
Some may look at the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary and say there is no God--or if there is, how could He allow this awful thing to happen to innocent children and their families and community? I wrestle with that myself and count my blessings that it wasn't my kids' school. Evil exists and there are messed-up people everywhere. None of us can protect ourselves from evil. We may build false securities with money and the right school and the right neighbourhood, but evil happens everywhere in this world. I believe God is light and in Him there is no darkness. He came into the darkness of this world to overcome it, by becoming one of us. We celebrate his coming into our dark world in the darkest time of the year--December. Darkness cannot invade light, but light can invade the darkness. Light makes all the difference.
We can each light a candle and say a prayer for those most deeply affected by the awfulness of innocent lives taken. We can also light a candle in our corner of the world by upholding Truth and Justice, holding up Beauty, holding onto Hope, and holding out Love. I believe the Great Source of all these things is God. I pray for open arms to receive Him--in our schools and in our hearts, this Christmas.