There are many questions that come to mind in the aftermath of a tragedy, but the most common and most difficult to obtain an answer for is why. As I reflect on the senseless, cowardly act of violence that occurred on April 15, 2013 at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and the murder in Haiti of the son of Bishop Patrick and Rev. Francoise Villier, my soul cries out, why? Nonetheless, I will not frustrate myself in pursuit of an answer.
In the midst of my pain and anguish, I remind myself that there is no limit to the depth of depravity to which humanity can sink when bereft of any influence of the love of Jesus Christ. My anger and sorrow is multiplied exponentially because I came to know Bishop Villier during the ten years I served on the Division of Overseas Ministries Board of Directors as a kind and gentle man, committed to the Gospel and to the welfare of the people of Haiti. I cannot fathom the horror of having your home invaded by the armed men who carried away the twelve-year-old son, the torment of negotiating for a week with his captors only to receive the devastating news that his body had been found dumped on the side a desolate road. I have had to pray that God would forgive me for the thoughts of revenge and reprisal that went through my mind on more than one occasion. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 NIV)
The outpouring of love and support for the Villiers that has come from all across the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the United Church of Christ and our ecumenical partners bears witness to the reality of hope in the midst of whatever sorrow the world may inflict upon us. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4 NIV)
In Boston, death and injury as the result of the act of a gutless bomber wreaked havoc on an historic event that has brought people together for one hundred sixteen years. The timing of this egregious action indicates a desire to cause the greatest amount of human suffering possible. Three dead, more than a hundred injured, a city, a state, a nation again rocked by senseless violence. Again, the death of innocent people, again, the life of an innocent child taken and the heart of a parent broken, is there an end?
We don’t have the answer, but our hope is built on the One who is the answer, the Lord Jesus Christ. In times like these the call is to love all the more as He has loved us, to pray all the more out of the faith that sustains us. We will not be afraid. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:17-19 NIV)
Prayers of support are with you.
Your regional minister,
Eugene W. James, Jr.