Posted by Moira Ahearne Parkinson

Welcome to Mid-Week E-Lift —

a Message in the Midst of a Busy Week

“LORD, you heard the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen them, you will listen carefully, Psalm 10:17″

Martin Richard, seen in this Facebook photo taken at a classroom event after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, was killed in the Boston Marathon terror attack.

LISTEN TO: Third Day, “Cry Out To Jesus”

Since Monday our hearts have been caught up with the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. Media commentators are analyzing and trying to figure out who is behind this heinous act.  So far no one has claimed responsibility,  And so far. all we know is that someone, or some group, deliberately planted bombs  near the finish line to target innocent people, gathered to celebrate in the accomplishments of the marathoners.  The bombs were constructed in pressure cookers, packed with metal shards, nails, and ball bearings to  inflict maximum damage on the by-standers.  Three are dead, including eight year old Martin Richard, and around 170  are injured, many with serious injuries, loss of limbs and head trauma.

As people of faith, we know violence happens around the world every day. There is violence against individuals (theft, rape, bullying, etc).  There is violence against ethnic and racial groups (i.e, violence against the LGBTQ community,  racism).  There is systematic social violence (unfair distribution of wealth, lack of access to health care, clean water), violence of ethnic group against others; nation against nation, as centuries held resentments refuse to be put to rest.  Our bible, a mirror to our soul, contains disturbing images of violence:  there are at least three hundred accounts of violence in the Hebrew scriptures alone — so called “Texts of terror.”  Jesus’ life was bookmarked by violence: as a toddler his family were displaced to Egypt because of Herod’s threats; and Jesus’ death was as brutal and ignoble as imaginable.  We encounter violence every hour. Of Every day. Jesus encountered this first hand, and through his life and teachings, guides us how to find our way out of insanity to God’s grace.

Evil’s goal in promoting violence is to deface and if possible, destroy, the image of God in the individual and in the world.  Evil wants to create sorrow, tear families and countries apart, in order to weaken them. Evil wants to quash happiness, joy, and unity in community. Evil wants to infect us with fear.  Keep us looking around the corner. Afraid to go out in public. Worrying when will the next act of terror happen? Doubting the goodness of God in the face of terrible tragedy.  Evil delights in breaking up families, societies, and destroying our health and wholeness.  Look at the picture of little Martin Richard.  Evil rejoiced to take his life, leave his sister maimed, his mother with a serious brain injury.  Let us not be mislead:  evil is real and gloating at the damage it inflicts, no matter who the victim is.

As disciples of Jesus, we do not bury our heads in the sand.  We stay connected to the suffering o f the world, to the brokenness in our communities, and in our own hearts:  and we seek to be agents of healing and wholeness. However we also stay connected to something more powerful: to Jesus, who conquered evil and death by his sacrifice on the cross.  So in the face of tragedy the Holy Spirit calls on us to be faithful.  Jesus never backed down from violence, but always chose to respond with healing. To choose not sin but the power of love in response to terror.  We see this in those first responders. In acts of kindness– providing a shoulder to lean on, lending a cell phone to reach loved ones, free food or a place to stay, to getting involved in larger acts of restoration, to being part of a web of prayer ministry, taking action to face down fear.  It’s time to flex our spiritual muscles.  We may not be able to eradicate terror, but we can choose to respond to terror as Jesus did:  with faith, love, and prophetic witness — as long as each of us refuses to give into fear.  Our collective acts of kindness will detonate the power of love that will infiltrate hearts, act as a balm to wounded souls, and restore the ties of community  that will defuse the fury of evil and make a stand — that we will not choose the easy path of fear and hate; instead we pledge to help each other choose the difficult but transformative path of God’s love, mercy and grace.

PRAY:  ” Lord, you are with us in our suffering, to bring us through to a place of healing and restoration. May we not forget little Martin’s words: No more hurting people.  Peace.  Eternal rest grant unto him, and all who die at the hands of violence. Ignite in the heart of every living being a desire to live in the peace that you promise us.  amen. ”