Once again our hearts and our sense of security has been rocked. Even as I write this, it is still being rocked. News reports and rumors and waiting for the other shoe to drop, leaves all of us feeling on edge, worried, fearful. Three years ago Jim ran the Boston Marathon. Friends and I were there to cheer him on. The atmosphere that day was joyful.
But this year, there at the finish line, the point of celebration and reward and joy, we were all confronted by violence and chaos, by horror and fear. It is, as many have pointed out, a symbolic strike, on Patriots’ Day at the point of culmination and reward for incredible effort, even as 9/11 was symbolic in the date and the targeting of iconic landmarks. And, I believe, intentionally so. Whoever is behind this heinous act is calculating, intending to strike not only innocent people in the blasts’ immediate vicinity, but also to strike fear into the hearts of all of us.
Evil exists. Whether we like it or not, it is very real and present in our lives and in our world, and times like this make it all the more painfully obvious. Our baptismal covenant addresses the reality of evil head on, at every level from cosmic to personal. Publicly we commit ourselves to living life a certain way, which includes actively renouncing:
- Satan and all the forces of wickedness that rebel against God
- The evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God
- All sinful desires that draw us from the love of God
Some people have a hard time with language like Satan, and we conjure up images of a guy in a red suit with horns. But language such as Satan, forces of wickedness, evil and sinful desires are simply our human efforts to name that which we come up against in moments like this, when bombs go off and lives are upended, when hope is assaulted and fear unleashed. And, of course, lives are tragically lost all the time, from the violence on our own streets of Chicago to war-ravaged places like Afghanistan. And all too often we don’t even notice.
Scripture tells over and over again of the reality of evil, and of our very human effort not to be overcome by it. And we are not alone in this work. Jesus reveals the fullness of God’s Love, even in the face of evil, even in the heart of darkness. Yes, evil is present, but Love is greater still. As people of faith, we are called to stand up to evil, to violence, to all that is broken, affirming, even in the face of horror, especially in the face of horror, that while death is real—death of people, dreams, hope, a sense of security, even love—resurrection follows death. Always. Love always emerges with healing, grace, joy, light and more love. Always.
And so, as people of faith—of those who believe or who want to believe—we face squarely into evil and renounce it. We cling to hope and to love, passionately, intentionally, recklessly, even when it is tempting not to. And we remind ourselves and each other of the promises we make in our baptism: we affirm that Love saves all of us from the corrosive power of fear, from all that is evil, even from our own brokenness, even death. We commit ourselves to Love as the governing power of our lives in all things, even as we acknowledge needing Love’s help to do so.
Those who gathered this morning in a circle of prayer lit candles for all on our prayer list and those who died or were affected by the bombing. We shared this reflection from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually, by David Adams, and offer it now to you:
We should seek to be still like a sunbather, soaking in the love and light of the Lord. We should let His great gifts flow into our lives, open ourselves to that offering. Too often we become so uptight and full that nothing can get in. Relax, let go and let God. Know that you are enfolded, encircled by Him and His love.
Once this is done, let the ripples of this love move outward. Like throwing a stone on a pond, let it move out in ever-increasing circles.
The Love of God flowing free
The Love of God flow out through me.
The Peace of God flowing free
The Peace of God flow out through me.
The Life of God, flowing free
The Life of God flow out through me.
Perhaps you can light a candle in your home or simply say a prayer, for all of us to be emboldened by hope and love in the face of this and all things, bearing Love into and beyond every finish line, refusing to allow the reality of fear and evil to win.
I look forward to hearing from you, either by email or by sharing a post here, on our blog, or on our facebook page. Please share your stories, your thoughts, your fears, your doubts, a prayer or a quote that speaks to you this week.