Bishop Ames has written an excellent pastoral response to today’s bombings in Boston. I wholeheartedly agree with what he says and I encourage you to read and reflect on it because he goes to the source of this evil–Satan himself, the Father of Lies, who hates us and wants to rob us of our hope that is in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Here is the bishop’s response:
My Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Christ is Risen! Alleluia! He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!
We find ourselves in the midst of of our 50 day celebration of the great and glorious Easter season. The reality of resurrection permeates us all with hope and new life. In the midst of this joyous season, we were struck today with the tragic news of the bombings in Boston. It is hard to wrap our minds around such senseless violence against innocent people. Our thougths and prayers go out to those who have died, the injured, and their famiiles. I ask that each parish include the victims of these bombings in the Prayers of the People this Sunday during the celebrations of the Holy Eucharist.
Whenever violence like this happens, it affects not only Boston, but all of as a nation. The Enemy wants us to be afaid and to take our sight off the risen Lord and His plan for us as individuals and communities.
Remember the words of St. Paul in Romans 8: 31-39:
“Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? For you we face death all day long. We are like sheep on their way to be butchered. In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!”
Let us pray:
Welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism. Comfort their families and all who grieve for them. Help us in our fear and uncertainty, And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love. Strengthen all those who work for peace, And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts. Amen.
Peace and All Good,
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes
On a personal level, as Christians we are also called to forgive our enemies and pray for them, and make no mistake: whoever perpetrated this terrible act is an enemy. If you are like me, however, I am having a very difficult time praying for the perpetrator(s) at this time because this act is sheer evil and it is too fresh. Our righteous outrage is wholly justified.
So I take my cue from our Canon to the Ordinary, Fr. John Jorden, who once presciently reminded me that on the cross Jesus did not say, “I forgive you who crucified me.” Rather as they were nailing him to the tree Jesus simply said, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23.32-34). If you cannot bring yourself to pray for the perpetrator(s) at this time, then simply cry out the prayer that Jesus prayed on the cross.
Of course we need to pray to God that his justice will be done. But we must also let God sort out how God’s justice is delivered and by whom. Especially at this time we must remember that we are called to be people of hope and beacons of new life and new creation. Praying for the enemy is a powerful way to be Jesus’ light to his dark and broken world, distasteful as that might personally be to us. Despite this, let us bring glory to God by praying for the evildoer(s), difficult as it is in the wake of this terrible tragedy.
Of course, we must also pray for the victims and their families. But prayer isn’t an either/or proposition. It is our heartfelt cry, a cry issued forth in faith, to the God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence things that are not (Romans 4.17). Let us not forget this truth, especially in this dark hour. It is what helps us persevere.