A Message of Hope
By Amanda Highben
I write this after a long and difficult week that was filled with terrible news: the Boston marathon bombings, the plant explosion in Texas, and the poison ricin surfacing in letters that were sent to the President and a Senator. Scores of people were either killed or injured last week, as loved ones continue to process their shock and grief.
And though we do not live near these places, the events felt close to home for many of us, especially those who have family members or friends who perhaps ran the marathon or live near West, Texas. My sister, Ashlee, and her husband, Jason, live in Watertown and, like the rest of the residents there, were locked in their home until it was safe to be outside. The day after the suspect was arrested, Ashlee posted this on her Facebook page: “Today I’m taking comfort in the simple things: open doors bringing in the cool breeze, the sprouting of my pea plants, and the lavender I planted with my mom last summer turning green…”
It’s certainly true that tragedies have a way of making us appreciate the simple, ordinary and yet lovely things that we tend to take for granted when life is going smoothly. Last week was likewise filled with the voices—some helpful, others not so much—of those offering their opinions and insights; such voices often tried to make sense of that which seemed senseless. Like many of you, I felt inundated at times by the media coverage; in the midst of so much noise, where can we turn for wisdom and truth?
Perhaps if you came to worship this morning you were struck by the particular relevance of Psalm 23, our appointed Psalm on this Fourth Sunday of Easter. It is a beloved Psalm we know well, but its truth and power were undeniable today. Even though I walk through the / darkest valley, / I fear no evil; / for you are with me; / your rod and your staff— / they comfort me. Even in the darkest of valleys, our shepherding God is close at hand to comfort and remind us that there is no evil that can, in the end, separate us from God’s goodness and light.
I likewise posted on our St. John’s Facebook page a link to the message of hope that our Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Mark Hanson, gave this past Friday. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can visit our Facebook page or find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2q4IuPQcow. His message is brief, but rooted in the Gospel and worth citing here in full:
Wherever you are tonight, wherever you are in your feelings after this tumultuous week, even if you’re behind locked doors, the promise is Christ is with you, just as Christ was with his disciples that first Easter evening when they were behind locked doors. Christ comes to you and says, peace be with you. Where is a safe place now? Our safe place is trusting in the promise that God will hold you in love forever. Wherever you go tomorrow the risen Christ goes ahead to meet you, because there are no God-forsaken places and there are God-forgotten people. Tonight be held in the confidence of your faith. Indeed. Even as we begin a new week, always unsure of what is to come next, we remember that there are no God-forsaken places, nor God-forgotten people. Amen.