Note for NaNoWriMo readers

For those who have been reading my NaNoWriMo posts, we will be continuing that journey tomorrow. Today I felt the need to reflect on the violence which has exploded into the world this week.

I am grateful for all those who have been enjoying my imagination, please pause with me as I express some of the reason my blog is titled as it is.

A rough week

This past week the world has suffered terrorist attacks which have been rightly condemned as attacked on humanity itself. The most public of these are the attacks in Paris on Friday night, but there have been others. Thursday, for example, there were suicide attacks in Beirut, Lebanon which left over 40 people dead.

Friday I had been preparing my sermon for Sunday, and used my camera to capture an image of an outstretched hand – an open hand of invitation and compassion. Its appearance in my sermon marked how I feel Christians should strive to present evangelism – not as confrontation, and never as a threat, but as an invitation to explore the reality we claim is available through Christ.

The attacks in Lebanon already had me thinking about the nature of evil, and the fanaticism of ISIS. I was also deep in sorrow for how I’d seen people reacting to that attack – with anger which was near to the point of crossing the line of justice, and toward the corrupting opiate of vengeance.

And then Friday happened. I couldn’t just ponder any more. My sermon needed to be replaced to address the events of the week, to try to ponder a way for the congregation under my care to grapple with the violence exploding throughout this world while remaining in the path of Christ. It has not always been the practice of those who claim Christ, greatly to our shame, but vengeance is not a path which is open to Christians – the thirst of it is not quenchable and hollows out those who pursue it. Rather, Christians are called to “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” to help all creatures into right relationships one to another and with our Creator. From this thirst springs our vocation as peacemakers. This will be Sunday’s sermon. It will ponder the nature of Jesus’ beatitudes and dare to ask the question, “In the wake of evil, are Jesus’ words merely quaint, but naive, hopes of the delusionally desperate?” 1

Yet, I still had this image of the open and inviting hand – and there were at least two cities which I knew were in need of expressions of compassion, care, and love. So took each country’s flag and laid it over the image of the hand. The result is, for me, an eerily powerful image which says, “Now, we are all of Paris, we are all of Beirut, we are all of any place where violence and hatred and oppression destroy any hope for peace.”

How, then, shall we live?

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  1. A hint to the answer, “No they are not.”