The Matthew 25 Scripture where the gospel portrays the final judgment played and still plays a central role in my Christian faith. The scene depicted is where the sheep are separated from the goats before the throne of God. During my teen years it was central to my faith out of fear of not wanting to be among the goats when it came time for the sorting.
Now at 41 I look at it more as an indication of how we are called to exercise our Christian faith by caring "for the least of these". People that are vulnerable and hurting are in special need of God's care and God provides it. As followers of Jesus Christ we are invited to be part of that care.
Thankfully our salvation depends on being saved by Grace through faith and not on our works. However our rightful response to this Grace is to embody God's Grace to those who are in need. Our works spring from the gratitude of being loved by God. It isn't just followers of Jesus who are capable of this kindness and love. Whenever kindness and love are practiced, it is a reflection of the best nature within humanity.
The bombing yesterday at the Boston Marathon provided an opportunity for people to rush to do good. I have heard it quoted many times and doubtless will have fellow sisters and brothers blogging on key voices and elsewhere what Rev. Fred Rogers' mother told him to do whenever disaster struck. These are Fred's words:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Fred Rogers.
When we look for the helpers we are able to recognize the good in humanity even in the face of the evil choice of some to commit acts of violence and murder.
I confess that I hold my breath any time something like this happens waiting for Pat Robertson or Fred Phelps to say something horribly misguided. Instead I am choosing take to heart the encouraging words of Mr. Rogers' mother. Instead I have chosen to look all of the helpers. There were law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, race volunteers, spectaters, military personnel and so many who ran TOWARD the explosions. Their response is a testament to the goodness in people.
I heard this morning NPR that people in Boston and the surrounding areas were opening up their homes to provide a place to stay for the marathon runners and their friends who were stranded because of their thwarted travel plans.
The residents of Boston not only gave them a place to stay but also a hot meal and any assistance they were able to provide. I imagine that many were commiserating with one another over the day's events.
Their hospitality points to a light of hope in the midst of darkness.
I call that Light Jesus Christ. But by any name I recognize it as the power of good that is greater than evil and darkness.
John 1:5 speaks to this. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."
My prayer is that we are able to be vessels of this light. Lord help us to embody your light and extend your love to those who are most vulnerable. We pray especially for those who stood and continue to stand with and for the victims of this violent act. We pray too for those who perpetrated the act. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. In your mercy Lord, hear our prayer. Amen.