Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Promises made...Promises broken

I've written before about the church's practice of parent/child dedications. These ceremonies are the stuff of which precious moments and just plain cuteness are made. Mom and Dad (and very often other family members) carry the baby up on the church platform. The pastor holds the oft-sleeping little one in his arms, and he prays for God's blessings on the child and on the family. The entire congregation is asked to support the parents in the raising of the child with their love, support, and prayers. The church family extends their arms toward the family in a symbolic laying on of the hands.

The other day I talked with yet another mom of not one, but two prodigal children. Her youngest son has been in jail for several months, and last week, her oldest son was arrested. I am once again struck by the overwhelming sense of loneliness felt by the parents of prodigals. It is a long, lonely road from the joyful and hopeful parent/child dedication to the cold, sterile walls of the county jail. Moms, in particular, carry so much guilt and feelings of responsibility for the way their kids turn out. "O" Magazine recently published an article by Susan Klebold, the mom whose son, Dylan, was one of the young men who carried out the student massacre at Columbine High School near Denver, Colorado. Susan has spent the past 10 years searching for peace, for solace, and for answers. She has expressed her apology for what her son (along with fellow student Eric Harris) did. She has written letters to the parents who lost children on that horrible day in 1999, but her therapist advised her against sending them because they would open and tear at wounds that will never fully heal. Some of the still grieving parents were interviewed and asked if they accepted Susan Klebold's apology. One father said, "It is too little too late. She should have apologized sooner." One father, however, said the apology was welcomed. Susan, it seems to me was the best mother she could have been. Her son (like most prodigals) was very good at hiding his dark thoughts from his mom. Why are we so quick to blame her for her son's sins? God is the perfect father, and His kids are a mess!

Susan Klebold lost her son on that horrific day at Columbine High School. Her grief is just as real and crushing as that of the other mothers and fathers. The families of the innocent victims have been covered in prayer and love since the moment the frightening live footage began streaming across our television screens. The families of the killers have been judged, criticized, questioned, and suspected. She was forever changed that day. "Dylan changed everything I believed about myself, about God, about family, and about love", Susan said. What happened to that beautiful little boy between the day he was dedicated and the day he trapped his schoolmates in the high school library? Remember all the people who raised their hands and promised to pray for that sweet little baby and help guide him into adulthood? Did they forget about their commitment to God and to that family? Babies and their families are dedicated nearly every Sunday in our church. Get off the pew, church. Even after the cuteness wears off, those babies you promised to pray for and help guide are still God's babies, and He's asked us to walk alongside one another. Reach out to a prodigal today. Get off the pew, church!!

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