I’m having a hard time today dealing with the contradiction between the promise of the new creation and the news of yet another set of suicide bombings. This morning’s news brought the report of the attacks today in Brussels. Tuesday of Holy Week was anything but holy. More than 30 are dead. More than 200 are injured.
In contrast, the text from Isaiah for Easter Sunday says, “I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered…. They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain.” I want to know when this will be. Where is this mountain? Can I go there?
Even more important, before I go there, I think we need to gather up all the children whose homes have been destroyed and who have tried to sleep through bombings, all the parents whose children have been torn from them by violence, and take them to that mountain. They need peace. They need to heal. They need that to be a promise for more than some time in the distant future. We’ve had enough and more than enough of war.
Unholy violence has intruded upon Holy Week. Suicide bombers have brought death to this week of preparation for the new life of Easter. Just as an unholy betrayal, a pretend trial, and an expedient condemnation brought death long ago on the day we now call Good Friday.
God is in the business of bringing life out of death. That is what we believe. God is in the business of making ordinary things holy, so we believe. But it seems that we see more death than life, more ugliness than holiness. What do I make of this discouraging prospect? How do I get in on the side of life and of holiness? What do I do?
I remind myself that Jesus’ death was voluntary. He drank the cup offered to him. He chose to give himself rather than raise an army and take up arms. His death was vindicated by God, who was right there with him, bearing the pain and sin of the world. What sense can I make of all this other death that is so senseless and serves no good purpose?
I know that all of creation is good because God made it. No place or person or thing is any more or less holy than any other, at least potentially. Some people, places and things are holy because they have been set apart for holy use, or claimed for God’s purpose. Is someone holy to the degree that he or she responds to God’s claim to be holy? And does the opposite also hold true – that someone is unholy to the degree that they have perverted God’s claim to be holy? How much is choice? Mine? God’s?
These things grieve me. Perplex me. How can a person made in God’s image blow himself up and take the lives of others? That seems the opposite of Jesus’ death – life-stealing rather than live-giving.
God, help me give myself to your purposes. I know that leads away from taking control and toward giving myself away. Give me courage. Give us hope. Make us holy and bring us to your new creation. Help us to embrace the hard journey toward holiness, a journey that invites us to empty ourselves of all that keeps us from being a vessel for God, for love, compassion, hope and peace.