A reflection on the Boston incident of terrorism.
Tuesday afternoon, 16 April.
My way of coping with tragedy is to find words, some framework of meaning. Often those words end up as sermons or pastoral prayers, or are in some other manner verbalized as part of Sunday morning worship.
The words that are helpful to me are words that move towards preventing the next disaster. Words like “more understanding of and professional competent care for those who live with mental illness.” Questions like: “do you believe our society glorifies violence, and what impact is that having?” or “what do we want to do about bullying? about the way students who are different are treated?”
I don’t yet have the words for what happened yesterday in Boston. We don’t know yet who the perpetrators were, or what their motivations were.
We know the names of two of the victims who died, one an 8-year-old boy who last year held a sign at a peace walk, a sign with these words: “No more hurting people.”
I know that there are no easy answers, no steps at all that will guarantee that terrorism will end.
What I do know is this. What we do, as people of love, matters. It matters that we offer Stephen Ministry relationships, that we offer people to walk beside those who are hurting. It matters that our youth program is hospitable, not just to the popular students, but to everyone. It matters that we say these words, and that we mean them: “All people are welcome here.” It matters that we take the time to listen to one another’s stories. All of the things we do for people and with people as a church family…it creates a foundation of love and meaning and hope, and that foundation gives us a place to stand, this and every day, a place that is solid when all around us the world seems to be crumbling.
It matters that we have these good words, found in Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Or as Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message version: “Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”
Those words are our motivation to keep on keeping on, to keep on offering Vacation Bible School and retreats and classes, to keep on worshiping: praying together, singing together, standing together…all of it matters. “No More Hurting People.”