By Keith Vaughn
Do you remember a time in your life that you felt most safe? Possibly it was as a child in the secure and loving arms of your mother or father. Perhaps you were hunkered down in your bed with the blankets pulled up over your head after a nightmare. Could it have been in a basement or cellar as you waited out a passing storm? Do you remember that time when you felt safest and you felt like no one or nothing could harm you
Over the nearly past two years, I believe we have lived through a perpetual time of fear during the pandemic. Many of us were afraid of catching COVID-19, or maybe afraid one of our loved ones would catch it and not survive. This season has made us afraid of venturing far from our homes to go shopping; go to work; go on vacation; go to school; to meet a friend for coffee; and even attend church. We have been masked and on lock down for such a long time, and it has not only made us frustrated, impatient, and angry, but downright scared.
All of us want security in our lives. We want to feel safe at home, school, work, church and any place else we live, work, and play. We buy CPI security systems with cameras and alarms for inside and outside of our homes. Some folks own guns to have a sense of security in order to defend themselves or their homes, and some even install a panic room. During the pandemic, how many wipes, sprays, gloves, masks, tissues, and paper towels have you bought these past two years in order to feel safe?
We all want safety and security in our lives. When we have that, or at least feel like we do, it gives us some sense of peace within a life that can at times be chaotic and out of control. How do we find that sense of safety and security for ourselves? How can we face life and all its uncertainty unafraid?
In Psalm 27 the psalmist finds safety through the faithful relationship one has with God. God is the ultimate provider of safety and security for our lives. The psalmist expresses this through worship in God’s holy places, God’s tent and temple. God provides shelter and strength in the midst of opposition as our enemies lay plans to do us harm. We shout to God in joy as we worship and seek God’s face. We are safe in the gracious presence of God and no longer have to be afraid.
I believe that is one reason I have come to love Greystone. I feel safe to be who I am as a follower of Jesus. I love Greystone because it is not just a sanctuary, but my sanctuary, where I can worship and experience God fully among others who may see or experience the world differently than I do. Yet, they love me and serve alongside me without judgment knowing that our church is a safe place for all those who enter its doors. We understand that we are all in this together. Greystone is our sanctuary where we can worship and serve God and each other in a safe space.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus offers the same safety for the city of Jerusalem that the psalmist speaks of in Psalm 27. He laments for the great city of God and says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” He wants to protect and offer grace to this city where he knows he will meet great violence and death.
Just as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings to protect them and keep them safe, he offers the same to the people living in Jerusalem. He wants them to experience the grace and safety found in their relationship with God. We can have this as well as we worship in our sanctuary, seek God’s face, and shout to God with joy.
This joy moves us to love each other, our neighbors, and ultimately our world a little less afraid than we were before. When we immerse ourselves in the grace and love found in our relationship with God, we can feel as safe and secure as a baby in her mama’s arms, or as a worshiper shouting with joy in God’s temple.