Sunday, August 22, 2010
The church and support for families
Many readers will have heard about the tragic deaths of eight year old twins Austin and Luke Riggi and their little sister Cecilia (aged 6). They were found stabbed to death in a rented house in Edinburgh after disappearing from their home in Aberdeen with their mother Theresa - who is suspected of their murder and remains sedated in hospital. She was found on the ground below the second floor balcony of the rented house, with severe injuries.
The children's funeral happened on Friday in Aberdeen. More here
So much about this story distresses me. The thought of two of the three children seeing their sibling die in front of their eyes. The mental distress and torment of a soul who took life away so violently. This family - one presumes - were well off materially. Dad is an oil executive. The family worshipped in the cathedral where the funeral took place, together, with the twins making their first Holy Communion there just 3 months ago.
Part of my pastoral ministry role is to support families so I can never blog about details. Suffice to say I am kept busy. But I continue to be moved by the opportunities that the church has to rise up in this area.
I am having lengthy and helpful conversations with social workers. We have respected one another's viewpoints and I have seen an openness I haven't always seen to accept us as upholders of morals and values (whatever you may think of those terms): and as people who genuinely care for and support individuals through thick and thin. I have had opportunities to train many parents outwith the church in positive parenting skills through Triple P and have people clamouring to get on the next course. Thank you lovely Health Board, for spending thousands of pounds on me some years ago for me to be able to show that our church genuinely cares for families and wants to support family life in any way we possible can.
Might it just be possible that we could help avert tragedy? Might it be possible that you and I can be the face of acceptance towards noisy, rumbunctious children, some with behavioural issues that don't fit the "sit quiet" stereotype, some with additional support needs that require money to be spent on the resources in the Sunday School room (there's a joke going on just now about me needing a substantial budget for cushions. It's like the guitar-strings and photocopying budget of the musicians - just plain necessary!!)
Could it just be that Christians living their faith out in family life, demonstrating a difference in the way they spend time together and ENJOY their kids, in thousands of streets all over this country, might just influence people suffering from desperate unhappiness and indeterminable stress in their family life that causes them to do awful things?
I believe that we can effect a change and I'm asking for this all the more when I feel grief over such news stories. Time for those raising children to be prophetically different!
Must read: Foundations of the Christian Family: John and Paula Sandford