I have been thinking a lot about safety. We just had a big meeting to examine all aspects of safety in our church. The speaker, who was great, said that we cannot hide behind thinking that nothing bad would ever happen. We have all seen fires and natural disasters and tragic loss of life happen, in churches and elsewhere. He said we cannot hide behind thinking that God will protect us. And he helped us think about where we can do better, which was what we wanted. We want to do everything we can to be prepared, and live in hope that we will never need to use any of it.
I believe that God is active in our lives, constantly creating with us the Kingdom of God now. I believe that God has the power to do anything. And that God could avert disaster. But I also know that God gave me freedom, and in exchange for that, I have to live with the consequences of sin in the world, mine and everyone else’s. I know that God grieves our sin and works unrelentingly to help us be free of it as much as we possibly can.
God gives us guidelines to live by. God gives us prophets and martyrs. God gave us Jesus to show with stunning clarity how to incorporate those rules in a way that lives them from the heart and not the head. And now God gives us each other, a church filled with courageous and faithful people working to be holy. God gives us what we need to become all that God created us to be.
So it isn’t that God will not spare us, that God will not take an active role. God is calling us constantly to goodness. And it isn’t that God wants bad things to happen. God grieves every tragedy in ways that only unconditional love can grieve. God is always with us and always loving us.
So what is safety? I think the plans we are putting into place make us prepared and prudent, and are a good thing. For me, safety is people, being surrounded by community. It is being loved. It is spending time with people I trust and who value me in return. There is no safety in isolation, no safety in hiding away. And there is no safety in physical power. There will always be a stronger person, a more powerful weapon. There is safety in love and trust and care. There is safety in building a better world for all people. And so even as I work on the list of how we can do better, I will feed people, and talk to people, and believe in the innate goodness of all people. That is our ultimate safety in my experience.