As I write this, pastors, parents and church educators, are considering how to talk to their children about the events of the last few days with the murder of nine people gathered in their church sanctuary to study the Bible and pray together. As adults, we can hardly deal with the shock and horror of this crime and its continued witness to the hatred and bigotry that exists in our country, and as Christians, we are shamefully aware of how our culture so rarely reflects God’s present and future Kingdom.
There are many issues involved in looking at how to speak to children about this – and all – tragedies. There are many good resources on the web about how children can deal with such tragedies at different ages, and actions that adults can take to help children feel safe in the midst of very frightening situations. (You might find some of those resources HERE and HERE.)
But Storypath’s primary purpose is to help us make connections between the stories of our lives, the stories of our faith, and the stories contained in books we love. To that end, we want to remind you of a bibliography put together by Noell Rathbun-Cook and shared on Storypath after the events of Ferguson, Missouri. The books found here may help you find ways to talk to children – and even adults – about God’s call for justice in our world and our part in participating in the kind of community in which all are respected and valued.
In the face of what can feel frightening and hopeless, we can also point our children to our book of faith. The Psalms have long provided words of lament, of longing, of hope and they can be used well in worship or in the quiet moments of home in these days. Several books of Psalms for children could be helpful here, including Marie-Helene Delval’s Psalms for Young Children and Tim Ladwig’s Psalm Twenty-Three which juxtaposes the comforting words of Scripture against the joys and fears of a child going through her day in her neighborhood. Other Psalms resources can be found HERE.
A new book came across my desk this week, and it seems to me to speak to a third concern in helping children face a sometimes frightening and uncertain world. How can they, as beloved children of God, participate in the creation of God’s Kingdom? What can any of us do in the face of hate, anger, evil? Peace is an Offering might be a book that allows us to consider with children the small ways that we can offer peace to our communities and to each other. Showing life moments that are both joyful and sad, children (and adults) act in ways that bring peace and reflect love and hope.
“Peace is a joining, not a pulling apart. It’s the courage to bear a wounded heart.
It’s a safe place to live. It’s the freedom from fear. It’s a kiss or a hug when you’ve lost someone dear……..
May peace walk beside you wherever you are.”
Ann Knox, Director of the Instructional Resource Center, Union Presbyterian Seminary, Richmond, VA