So for Holy Thursday, last week, I made a last minute decision to add in a specific prayer of intercession for the victims of violence, terror, and war. I came across a website (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents_in_April_2017) which lists terrorist incidents in the world. It lists them by day, with the number of victims, and the location. If you want, you can go to the bottom of the page and see incidents for a specific year or month.
During the prayers, I only read off the locations for incidents that happened between Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday. There were 25 incidents in those 5 days. 25. Let that sink in for a moment.
In the US we are so far removed from violence and terrorism. Yes, there are incidents here and there, but they are pretty rare compared to places like Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan which seems to dominate the list.
25 incidents across the world. And that’s just related to terrorism. That’s not counting war or war-acts, like when we bombed “militants” in Syria and killed 36 militants. Or other wars – either declared or happening anyway.
And that’s not counting other acts of violence that happen in the world each day. Violence against women and children, violence in the form of crime, violence because of gangs. Those are traditionally thought of as violence. Some would throw in violence against nature in that mix along with violence against animals. There’s plenty of that to go around as well.
Death and destruction seem to have a hold on the planet and humanity in particular.
Yet here we are post-Easter. We are told that Jesus has conquered death. But sometimes it’s hard to believe it when we see violent acts continuing. Sometimes even in God’s name.
But Jesus never said there would be no more death or violence. Just that death has been conquered. That means that death does not have the final say. Death is not the end of the story. Ultimately, God has the final say. And while we may not like the fact that violence continues to stubbornly exist along with death, we have been promised that these things will come to an end. It’s just not on our time. It’s a reminder that time didn’t start when we were born and it doesn’t end when we die. God looks at time far different than we do.
For the month of April, 2017, there have been 78 incidents as of this writing. There were too many dead and injured to count up. Death keeps rearing it’s head – in the name of God, in the name of country, in the name of ideology, in the name of theology, in the name of whatever. Yet, regardless of whose name it happens, or rather it is claimed in, we should remember this – just because something is claimed in the name of God or country, doesn’t mean God or the country agrees with it. I imagine God is looking upon humanity and saying – “here we go again…When will they ever learn…I don’t desire conformity of belief, but rather love.” And God will continue to live out that love in creation.