Saturday, February 17, 2018

Prayer in School

(Photo: ERIC HASERT/TCPALM)
I have to confess that my number one favorite movie is "It's a wonderful life".  I like to watch it anytime of year but I try to make it a Christmas tradition for us to watch it together as a family.

It wasn't until just a few years ago that I realized that Clarence, the Guardian Angel was sent down to Earth as an answer to a prayer, or prayers, from George Bailey's family and all those whom he had helped throughout his life.

So what's happened to prayer in recent generations?  Is it something now only done in private or maybe here once a week?  We know it's no longer allowed in Schools, right?

But wait, I can tell you with some certainty that there have been instances of prayers in schools, like on:

-April 20, 1999
-April 6, 2007
-December 14, 2012
-October 24, 2014
-October 1, 2015
-Just this past Wednesday, Ash Wednesday 2018

Where?

-Columbine High School - (15 souls)
-Virginia Tech - (33 souls)
-Sandy Hook Elementary School - (28 souls)
-Marysville Pilchuck High School - (5 souls)
-Umpqua Community College - (10 souls)
-Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS - (17 souls)

Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee's sub-committee on May 27, 1999.  Here are segments of his testimony:

"What has happened to us as a nation?  We have refused to honor God, and in doing so, we open the doors to hatred and violence.  And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs - politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA.  They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties.  We do not need more restrictive laws.  Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers."  

"We do need a change of heart and humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple TRUST IN GOD!"

"As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes - He did not hesitate to pray in school.  I defy any law or [any] politician to deny him that right!  I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School - prayer was brought back to our schools".

Mr. Scott wrote this poem 4 days before his testimony; and is part of his testimony:

"-Your laws ignore our deepest needs
-Your words are empty air
-You've stripped away our heritage
-You've outlawed simple prayer
-Now gunshots fill our classrooms
-And precious children die
-You seek for answers everywhere
-And ask the question "Why"
-You regulate restrictive laws
-Through legislative creed
-And yet you fail to understand
-That God is what we need!"

My Friends, I had another Homily written out this morning that was much easier to deliver but I just couldn't ignore what's been screaming out to me since Wednesday evening.  

We are all hurting; we are all searching for answers.  There is no quick fix for this national crisis; no wave of the pen is going to heal us.  But perhaps in hearing Mr. Scott's testimony, the testimony of a grieving father, we stop looking to legislators for solutions and instead return to making God the solitary focus of our daily lives.  Let go, and Let God.

Rev. Deacon Paul Harney
February 17, 2018

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