Talking to kids about San Bernardino

December 7th, 2015

Our nation experienced a terrible tragedy last week as people died and were injured needlessly in the shooting in San Bernardino, California. Friends, family and coworkers struggle to understand the reasons why as they face their own pain. The effects of that tragic event ripple across our nation and remind us of other similar incidents. People are once again debating gun control and immigration. This is big and serious stuff. How do we respond?

During this season of Advent, we are preparing our hearts for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. His birth in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago did not happen on a silent night. He was born out of town and away from friends and family to a teenage girl during a confusing time of counting the people who lived in the country. He was born in a stable with cows mooing, horses neighing, donkeys braying, chickens clucking…you get the picture. That barn didn’t smell like evergreen and cinnamon, either. The barn was messy; not the ideal place for a newborn babe. Not to mention, the Romans ruled in that day, and they weren’t the friendliest folks around. Soldiers walked the streets and barked orders. The oppressed people of Israel longed for a Deliverer who would bring them freedom.

On the night Jesus was born in that stinky barn in that mixed up world, the angels appeared to shepherds watching over their sheep in the field. Those men shook as they encountered the Heavenly Host. The first thing the angels said was, “Don’t be afraid” (Luke 2:10).

In the midst of this mixed up world of ours, those words are as important for us as they were for the shepherds: “Don’t be afraid.” When we fear, then evil wins…whether that evil be hatred, lack of forgiveness, racism or violence. Instead, we are challenged to respond in love. Remember, “God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled” (2 Timothy 1:7). But how do we show that love?

We can each choose to show love daily to the people in our world. This is where living for Jesus becomes day-by-day, moment-by-moment. It’s in the small things we do that we can demonstrate love to our family, friends and community. Choosing to love even in the midst of mess is powerful. We won’t “be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good” (Romans 12:21). We are holding onto the hope that Jesus Christ will be born anew in our hearts and in our world this Christmas.

How are you choosing to love?


Tips for Parents

  1. Be aware of how much time you spend listening to the news. Keeping up to date is one thing, but a steady diet of bad news can breed anxiety. Your children pick up on your feelings. Do what you can to stay at peace.
  2. Talk to your children about what happened in San Bernardino. Answer questions, but avoid going into too much detail.
  3. Reassure your children of their safety. Remind them that you and the other caring adults in their lives are watching out for them.
  4. Invite your children to pray with you for those who are hurting.
  5. Choose to love this Advent season. Remember to slow down the holiday rush. Relationships are what matter most.
  6. Serve together as a family. Perhaps you can bake for an elderly neighbor or donate to the food bank. Do something good!
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