Wednesday, April 17th: Marathon Aftermath

Tonight, Wednesday, April 17th, we’ll be holding an interfaith prayer service in response to the violence at the Boston Marathon. All are welcome.

During the last two days, since the bombing at the Boston Marathon, like all of us, I’ve had waves of reaction to this event. The most prevalent is a deep sorrow for those who were wounded, or died, for their families, for the caregivers, the police and rescue workers. I’ve had several conversations about it; in fact, it’s pretty much all we’ve talked about here. Most of us would like to do something, to respond in some effective way. If we aren’t actually giving hands-on-care to victims, we can give hands-on-care to our neighbors, through prayer, kindness, listening, comforting. I am concerned, too, for the children in our congregation, and community, as we were concerned after Newtown, how to help them through events like this.

I’ve received many emails from many people expressing their responses to Monday’s violence. Some have come from friends of St. Paul, one very beautiful one from Paul Wasserman, who has been attending for some time. Paul speaks of his own feelings, his shock and bewilderment. He offers the hope of prayer for those who were hurt and who died. Here is part of his letter: “All I can do is pray for them, asking that God bring them some measure of peace and healing. I weep also for a world in which any human being can be so hardened, so filled with anger or self-righteousness that they would set out to kill and maim innocent men, women and children. For all my adult life I have considered optimism to be a moral obligation. This tragedy has not lessened or altered that resolve. May we all know peace, love and compassion in our lifetime.”

In another message, the President and Dean of EDS, where I earned my M.Div., wrote a pastoral statement to the wider community. I appreciated her words, as I appreciated Paul’s, so I include them here, too.

Dean Ragsdale writes:
“There are no easy or clear answers in times like these. Instead I offer three suggestions:

1) Visit the Psalms (79, 90, 109…). The Psalms are a vivid reminder that anguish and anger, outrage, even a lust for vengeance, are not alien to the people of God. Should you feel these things, it does not mean you are an inferior Christian or lesser child of God. The people of God often feel these things. We are called not to act on them-we cannot stay in that place of violent despair-but to acknowledge that we feel these things simply puts us in the good company of prophets and psalmists.

2) Claim the power of this Easter season. We know-against all reason, we know-that violence, destruction, despair, even death itself, do not have the final word. I’m not suggesting minimizing the tragedy. There is nothing good or right about that violence. We know that resurrection and redemption come not by turning a blind eye to tragedy, trying to side-step reality, but by going through it and coming out on the other side. Easter promises incomprehensible resurrection and redemption on the other side. Visit the Gospels.

3) “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable … if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” When you’re overwhelmed by the constant media images of smoke and blood and chaos remember the other images-people running toward the site of the explosions to help others. Not just police, firefighters, and medical and rescue personnel but bystanders. People, people who must have been terrified, confused, exhausted, people who were injured themselves, ran into danger in order to help strangers. “Greater love hath no one…”‘

Please come tonight to the interfaith service if it will give you comfort.
Peace and all good things, Pastor Anne

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