As I wrote last week, I had no intention of writing a letter while away visiting the grand kids. Then I didn’t expect the Boston Marathon bombing, or the horrible explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas. The truth is that we cannot be prepared for what lies ahead of us in the next moment. We all are at the mercy of events, and only can live through them the best we can – whether they be in our home, or whether it is across the nation somewhere.
Despite the joy of being with my grandkids, the news of the bombing in Boston and the explosion in West, Texas, have given me a sense of unease for their young lives. I lament the loss of life. I lament the loss of the limbs. I lament the loss of homes and cars. I lament the loss of “normalcy” in the lives of those who live so close to these traumatic events. So when I lament I turn to the psalms of the Scripture.
We recently heard the words of Psalm 22:
“1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1, 2)
These are the words that Jesus spoke on the Cross. We should also hear today the words that come later so we may understand what Jesus was truly saying.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame. (Psalm 2:4, 5)
Scripture tells us that we should lament. And we can, but we also should know from where our salvation comes. It belongs to the Lord, alone. And then as we move through lament, there is a movement towards forgiveness. Jesus spoke to us in his prayer to “Our Father, who is in heaven.” He spoke and said, “
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matt. 6:12)
I think Jesus is serious here. This is not optional. Jesus says if you love me you will obey my commandments. Forgiveness is the doorway to the healing process so that we might come into the Peace of Christ, which is to have peace with our God and with our neighbor. Of course, this is the hard part, but we must come to it in order to enter into wholeness offered through the atoning death of Jesus. For his death and resurrection changed the law that said an eye for eye to another: turn the other cheek, and put away the sword.
Then we can begin to live in wholeness and completeness as God intended from the beginning of time. Then we can be holy in our worship. If you think that it cannot be done, ask someone who has lost a love one, but in whom you see a fullness of the life live abundantly in Jesus. Ask him or her. Ask me if you will.
For us who are far removed from the events of pain and loss, there is much for us to do from our knees. For prayer is needed before all other assistance can be given. It is from our knees, with bended hearts earnestly seeking God’s direction, we can fully lift up our neighbor. Once prayer has begun there are many other ways that we can help those who will have physical and financial needs in the wake of these tragedies. The United Methodist Committee on Relief has already released emergency funds to the Central Texas Annual Conference for recovery efforts. Suggested ways of assisting are through the donation of blood and assembling “cleaning buckets” for West, Texas. For more information you can call the toll free number 1-800-554-8583 or go the UMCOR website at http://www.umcor.org. I am sure that the Red Cross will also need to replace the supplies of the Boston hospitals in response to the many who were treated for blood loss due to traumatic injuries. And I am sure other efforts will be forthcoming for those who are facing catastrophic medical costs both for the operations performed and the long recuperation process.