2018 March Pastor’s Pen

From the Pastor…

Now make violent people stop, but protect all of us who obey you.”   (Psalm 7:9) 

That’s the psalm I happened to be reading shortly after I heard about yet another high school shooting, this time in Florida.  There is this numbing feeling when you first hear about such things, then the horror, then the reality seems to hit, then sorrow and compassion for those who were wounded or died so violently, and then we watch parents overcome with grief.  Details and explanations are offered, but to no avail; and then comes the anger, our tendency to lash out, to condemn, or to take revenge.  Yet, a part of us knows that violence  breeds more violence, and revenge makes us vengeful, and lashing out pulls us away from our true identity as children of God.  Then some solutions are offered: arm the teachers, strengthen the walls, put in metal detectors and bulletproof windows.  Yet a part of us knows that we are treating the symptoms more than the root cause.

Sometimes we forget that the people of the Bible also lived in violent times.  Only four chapters into the creation story in Genesis, Cain kills his brother Abel for apparently no reason.  Throughout the Old Testament people kept stoning and killing the prophets.  Finally, thousands of years later God sent his own son.  When King Herod gets word of it, he orders all the young children in Bethlehem killed.  Then we have 2,000 years of church history with endless people being martyred for their faith.

Yet, something very different happens with Jesus.  God could have sent an army of angels to prevent it, with Jesus leading the charge.  This is what many people expected him to do.  But rather Jesus becomes a suffering messiah, tortured, and then put to death on a cross.  But he is raised again from the dead, still bearing the scars of his wounds.  He now knows what we go through, especially when innocent people suffer and die so violently.  And he dies for us, taking the original sin of Adam and Eve upon himself, paying the price for us.  Going even further he says that everyone who believes in him will not parish but have everlasting life.

There is a true story about a Christian who was put in a Nazi prison camp during World War II.  Death surrounded him every day.  He never knew when it might be his turn.  One day one of the guards came out into the prison yard, pointed to several of the gallows where people were being hanged and said, “look up at those people.  Where is your God now?”  To which the Christian prisoner answered, “He is up there, on the gallows, suffering with those people, and preparing to take them home.”

Walking With You on Our Lenten Journey,

Pastor Nelson