Last week, our city, Santa Clarita, made national news as the latest to suffer the tragedy of a school shooting. It occurred at Saugus High School, which is only a few miles away from our campus.
First responders made it to the scene in two minutes! We were informed and we did what other area schools were doing, and went into lockdown status as a precaution. We followed our safety protocols, communicated to parents, and went about the business of caring for people. Many of our families have connections with Saugus High School students and their families – whether it’s through church, sports teams, youth groups, boy scouts, neighbors or friends. Some of our families even have students at Saugus as well as here at Trinity. To say it hit close to home is an understatement.
As a TK-12 school, we also wanted to be cautious to protect our little ones from information that they don’t need to know, at least not from us. We let parents know that we were not going to communicate about the day’s events but leave that to the parents to share as much information as they felt was appropriate for their children. While other schools closed on Friday, we held school, but sent an email letting parents know that they should feel the freedom to keep their children home if they felt it was appropriate to do so. But we knew that at school, we needed to respond to the tragedy.
On Friday, we began the day as we begin every week, with prayer and praise. Dr. Matthew Dixon, Administrator of Spiritual Life and Co-Curricular Programs, led the time as our entire school gathered in the hallways and Promise Circle to pray and to sing the Doxology. Then the grammar school went to class to go about their day. We held the upper school students longer for some directed prayer time, and as always, all of the teachers and administrators are caring for our students and available to talk, to listen and to pray.
A common question after incidents like this is “how do you feel?” During times when emotions are understandably high and we don’t know how to feel we must remind ourselves of what we know. We can ask ourselves and one another how we feel repeatedly, when what we really need is to ask ourselves and one another what we know.
And so, what do we know? We know that bad things happen. We know that tragedies are sad and sometimes evil. Unfortunately, we know that things like this aren’t new. And to give us a little context we must remind ourselves of where it all began...Genesis 3, the first sin. Adam and Eve believed the lie that God didn’t know what was best and that they knew how to best be satisfied. And from then on, in our fallen world, sin continued. The first murder was Cain killing Abel, his own brother.
We remind ourselves of what we know and then what? That doesn’t change the pain, sadness or fear. More than what we know, it’s vital to consider WHO we know. We know Jesus—the author, perfecter, and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We must look to Him. When we’re lost, when we have fear or doubt, when we hate what this world is like – it’s a reminder that there is something greater. Someone greater.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33
When we decided to hold school, we wanted to be thoughtful and intentional about how we addressed the tragedy and how we were going to care for each other and process the feelings that are sometimes overwhelming. We took time to review our first Catechism question from this school year, which was: What is our only hope in life and death? The answer: That we are not our own but belong body and soul both in life and in death to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.
Our only hope of peace in the midst of a world that isn’t peaceful is to seek after Jesus Christ, for He has overcome death and has overcome the world. He is no guarantee that we won’t face heartache and tragedy. But He does guarantee that we won’t face those things alone.
At Trinity, we remind ourselves and teach our children that we are the hands and feet of Jesus. We are not in this life alone. We are here for each other. We are a community of faith. We love Jesus. We love each other. That’s what we know.