The last “Reflections” I wrote had to do with the terrorist attack in New York on 10-31-17. My point was that unfortunately we habituate to tragedy and get use to hearing bad news. It is a part of our lives and I wanted people to be careful not to let the events of the previous Tuesday slip so quickly into the “old news” file. I titled the post “10-31”. Now, one week later I am writing again about another sick, senseless, hateful act that occurred on 11/5/17. In a matter of 5 days from the New York terrorist attack another kind of terrorist attack took place. A 26-year-old man walked into the small First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs Texas with an AR 15 assault rifle and proceeded to kill 26 people before taking his own life.
I was meeting with some friends this week and one of them made this comment: “I never could have imagined this would happen in a church.” I said to him: “Did you ever imagine kids would bring guns to school and kill their classmates and teachers? Did you ever imagine somebody taking planes and flying them into buildings? Did you ever imagine somebody leaving a bomb in the midst of the Boston marathon? Did you ever imagine somebody taking a truck and intentionally running down people?” He said “all these acts are unimaginable because I don’t think that way.” And that is so true. We do not think of ways to kill people, ruin lives or destroy families. For the vast majority of us it is unimaginable but for those who commit these crimes it is all too real and imaginable. And that is what is so scary.
There are a myriad of problems that plague humanity ranging from mental illness to systemic impotency to racism to religious zealotry. This man who did the shooting suffered from mental illness and unfortunately the system failed to keep him in check. And we need to find some solutions and preventative measures to at least in some way curtail this insanity or else this will not be only a weekly occurrence but a daily one.
My heart breaks for the church and the families of FBC. What was once unimaginable now becomes a little more imaginable. And hits home just a little bit more because there are unstable people, violent people, hateful people all around us. Like most churches we are not at the point of posting security or hiring police to patrol our parking lot but perhaps we are just a little bit more careful, a little bit more on guard.
On August 16, 2005 Brother Roger, the founder of the Taize community, was stabbed to death in front of hundreds of people as he sat in prayer. Taize is an ecumenical monastic community in France that centers itself on prayer, Bible study, community and shared work. It is composed of more than one hundred brothers, from Catholic and Protestant
traditions, who originate from about thirty countries across the world. Each year 100,000 people make a pilgrimage there, many of them are youth and young adults. At its heart it exists for peace and unity through the communion of the Spirit. In 2010, five years after Brother Roger’s death, Taize celebrated their 70th anniversary and have been growing in number and impact each year since. The most horrific thing imaginable could not stop the work of God through this community.
I am reminded of two verses that I hold close to my heart. They come from the lips of Jesus and reinforce my belief that God will carry us through.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
“I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18).
As I said last week. May we never forget 9-11. May we also remember 10-31.
And may I add this week: May we never forget 11-5 and may we always remember that Jesus will build His church, that darkness will not prevail and that trouble and fear will not overcome us because He has overcome the world.
What do you think? How does it make you feel?