The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I felt safe. I harbored no fear that a dangerous person would walk in. No fears that he would bring a gun with him. No fears that he would use it.
The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I sat down, opened my Bible, and knew exactly what to expect: that we’d spend the next hour talking about the Bible. Surprise! We’d read passages, look up corresponding verses. Maybe I’d write down a few lines about what I was thinking. Maybe, if it was a particularly heart-searching lesson, I’d even underline a verse with red pen. Wild and crazy times, I know.
The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I was distracted. By the last words I said to my children before leaving the house. By my shoes. By the taste of coffee in my mouth. By what I needed to do after the study was done.
The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I couldn’t remember if I had prepared my lesson beforehand and then I remembered I hadn’t and I felt a little guilty about that but then I figured that God loved me anyway so I shouldn’t let it bother me even though it did.
The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I had no thought of racial tensions outside of the building. Or even in the building, for that matter. I didn’t think once about my white Scottish ancestors or my German blood on my father’s side or the little smattering of Swedish that my children inherited from their dad. I didn’t think about what any of that meant to my life, my plans, my family. I didn’t think about entitlement or racial profiling or people who might judge me by the color of my skin rather than the content of my character.
The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I didn’t think, in other words, about anything very important. Because, after all, I was attending Bible study, for goodness sake! A nice, pleasant, uncontroversial, calm, understood, safe, place.
For me. A white woman in middle America. Who, when she goes to Bible study, does not need to worry about being shot. I’m not saying that I want to worry about that. I’m saying that it’s horribly, terribly wrong that anyone should need to worry about it.
We live in a messed up world. And it’s not getting better; it’s getting worse. I want everyone, everywhere, to be able to go to Bible study and not worry about anything worse than what they’re going to fix for dinner when they leave. That’s what I want. But that’s not reality. And I don’t think that anything short of Jesus coming back is going to change that.
Is that fatalistic? Possibly. All I know is that there are millions of people out there who are helpless in light of the few fanatics who set out to do horrible things – like shooting up a Bible study in South Carolina – leaving millions of innocent people afraid of what will happen the next time they go to a Bible study, or to school, or to work, or to the grocery store, or step out of their front door.
That is not what America is supposed to be.
The next time I go to a Bible study at my church I’m going to pray. Because, in all honesty, that’s the only solution I see to this horrible problem.