Friday, December 12, 2008

Bless and Curse Not

A few weeks ago, a horrific terrorist attack left a number of people dead and wounded in Mumbai, India. I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to this--it was just another piece of bad news filling the newspapers and airways. My inner response, "It doesn't really affect me anyway." Then I got an email from my oldest son who has been doing some graduate work in France. One of his classmate's father was injured in the attack. Although the whole description of the attack is too long to print in full, here is a snippet of what happened after the terrorists entered a hotel restaurant and began to shoot:

"The terrorists then rounded up anyone alive (about 20 people) and made them climb the service staircase to the 18th floor. On reaching the 18th floor landing they made the people line up against a wall. One terrorist then positioned himself on the staircase going up from the landing and the other on the staircase going down from the landing. Then, in a scene right out of the Holocaust, they simultaneously opened fire on the people. My father was towards the center of the line with his two friends on either side. Out of reflex, or presence of mind, he ducked as soon as the firing began. One bullet grazed his neck, and he fell to the floor as his two friends and several other bodies piled on top of him. The terrorists then pumped another series of bullets into the heap of bodies to finish the job. This time a bullet hit my father in the back hip. Bent almost in double, crushed by the weight of the bodies above him, and suffocating in the torrent of blood rushing down on him from the various bodies my father held on for ten minutes while the terrorists left the area."

After further description of the horrors and the eventual rescue of the four who survived this particular attack, my son's classmate wrote this:

"How do we fight such hate? How do we inject humanity into such monstrosity? How do we convince those who think they kill in god’s name that no God would condone such barbarity? How do we maintain our own values and humanity when faced with such hate and provocation?"

Yes, how do we fight such hate? Do we fight it with more hate? With more violence? With escalated wars? There are no simplistic answers here and I'm not naive enough to suggest them. But it surely does answer the question that many Christians are encouraged to ask during Advent, that time of waiting for Christmas. The question: "Does the world need a Savior?" How do you answer it? What will you do when the Savior appears? What will you do when the Savior appears and is not what you expected? What will you do when the Savior appears and instead of destroying your enemies he says, "Bless those who persecute you.  Bless and curse not." 

Just a few words to ponder as we prepare for a week of celebration, family, gifts and fun. Be sure and attend a Christmas Eve service--hear again those words and remember, "Christ the Savior has come!"

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