Dear Friends in Christ,
By now you probably know about the bombing attack at the Boston Marathon. Details about what happened can easily be obtained elsewhere, but we need help coping. It is tempting to say 'words fail' and fall into a mute numbness or horror and grief and rage.
But words don't completely disappear. We can't help it. Who did this? Who WOULD do this? Are we always unsafe now? Will more of the wounded die before this nightmare is over? Will the perpetrators be found?
We are weary of living in a mean season. The people of this community have watched good neighbors lose good jobs through no fault of their own. Gun violence in schools and workplaces have piled one on the other so there is a kind of shock fatigue. These bombings make us think of places like Jerusalem or the deadly roads of Afghanistan. Now we find we are living in one of 'those places.'
Like the I-35 bridge falling into the Mississippi, this bombing feels like something that is not supposed to happen in America. (A terrorist might say that breaking this bubble is exactly the point.) There is not only sorrow and outrage, but disorientation. The winter will not end, and we wonder if the world is unraveling.
Let the Psalmist speak for us: "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. (Psalm 69:1-3)
Take time to pray. Pour your heart out to God. Don't filter too much, don't pretend you are more calm or charitable than you really are. God sees. The God of the Cross of Christ understands fear and pain. Pray for the victims, for the perpetrators, for safe passage for those running the daily race.
A Christian can sometimes sound like a Pollyanna. "There is still hope." can seem like words from someone out of touch with reality. That is why an honest lament is so important. God is beside you in pain and uncertainty. God is reconciling the world to God in ways we may never see or understand.
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." That prayer is not an abrogation of justice, or weak capitulation to violence. Jesus was willing to have his blood spilled so we can understand in our bones that tragedy and death are not the last word. This, even this, will be redeemed. For that we wait with tears and with hope.