Sherwood Greenlaw Parish Church
FROM THE MANSE
The attacks on churches and hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka has killed 359 people at the point of going to print, and more than 500 have been injured. It is the worst terrorist attack since the twin towers were brought down in the USA killing 2996 in 2001. The Sri Lanka attack was directly aimed at Christians and Westerners, and Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the attack
Sadly, it will not be the last of such attacks. All of History speaks about such atrocities of human murdering human, for food, power, territory, religion, or some ideology or political viewpoint. These murders have not brought triumph or victory, but they have sown seeds of hatred and revenge, which grow and fester until someone else takes action, and the cycle of violence begins all over again.
I condemn all violence and murder, especially when people say that they do it in God’s name. I think suicide bombers and attacks like those on Easter Sunday aimed at worshipers and people going about their everyday business are cowardly acts. The perpetrators carry out their murderous acts, in the knowledge that no one is going to attack them back as they are targeting unprotected targets. Instead they come unannounced, with the aim to cause as many deaths as possible and strike fear into the hearts of survivors and the rest of the nation.
How ironic that they should choose Easter Sunday as their day of terror. The very day on which Christians celebrate life over death. When we declare the glory of the Resurrection, compared to a sealed tomb.
Over 2000 years ago religious and political authorities conspired to silence Christ by murdering him on a cross, to shut him up, and kill of his growing popularity. Their murderous act did not work back then, and neither have all the murderous and cowardly acts since, because life is always more powerful and death, and it is because we live that we stand united in Christ, proclaiming his love, and working for peace and justice, and the Kingdom that God would want for all his people.
I cannot begin to imagine the pain those who lost loved ones in Sri Lanka are feeling. I can understand they might be angry and want revenge or justice done, and that the murderers are found and dealt with appropriately. That’s what we call natural justice.
Yet, here is where Christians are called to be different. We are called to forgive those who hurt us. We are called to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. This is not a cop out, nor an attempt to sugar coat the world in which we live, or at the very least try to be nice to each other and get on.
This is a call to love as Christ loved. To do as Christ did. To aim to break the cycle of hatred and revenge, and to love people into a way of being different from what they are. This is the courageous route, the Christ route, the Kingdom route, that takes dedication, commitment, and self-sacrifice. It is the route to peace and harmony. It is the route to building a better world, and its not a given, but we have to start somewhere.
As the people of Christ and in tribute to the people of Sri Lanka who gave their lives while worshiping God, we must act out of love, forgiveness and hope, to make meaning out of their deaths. We cannot resort to the same actions to revenge their loss, but to find new ways to engage and understood those who would seek to destroy life in their attempt to create a world where death rules rather than life.
May the hope of Resurrection be an inspiration for all the Easter people throughout thworld.