It’s been about four days now since the tragedy in Christchurch. Fifty human beings gunned down all for the sake of some single person’s misguided belief system at the least or pure lunacy at the most. Men, women and children died as they were at their worship. These were Muslim folks at this time bearing the brunt of prejudice and bigotry but truth to tell, it could have been any faith community held in disregard by someone.
Many of us are still impacted by the grief of a nation trying to work its way through this extreme situation. As a loving church family made up of those from many ethnic backgrounds we can only sense some of the impact of what it would be like to lose those amongst us who we have known, cared for and loved as God loves us. Its a situation with which so many can identify.
I was away this past weekend as you know and I was at one time, with a group of about forty adults. I was asked, since I was a Pastor, if I could lead us all in a moment of silence on behalf of the folks killed in Christchurch. Now this group was totally secular except for me as far as I know. I do, however, know there are atheists there and agnostics plus those who like to try and stir me up because of what I believe as well the usual variety of folks from different ethnic backgrounds and beliefs. It was an unusual request which I started to fulfill by saying who I was and that I was a Senior Minister of a Presbyterian Church. I also pointed out that I had emailed everyone in church in a call to prayer and that both our services would be praying in one way or another, for God’s peace and blessing for those most affected by what had happened. I then went on to say that the event of murdering the Muslim worshippers in Christchurch goes beyond issues of faith and crosses over into issues of humanity. The fact is, fifty human beings who loved others and were loved by others are no longer with us. I also said that in NZ this is not meant to happen yet it did and it impacts us all. I closed by calling us all to stand and remember these folks in whatever way was right for us. This situation, where a Christian Minister referred to as ‘our Pastor’ by-the-way, was one of unity and the room became quiet and still. It was a precious moment.
So what do we do this far away from where this happened?
We pray to God for those most impacted; for those who are grieving for their loved ones. We seek His help and grace and mercy on behalf of such folks. We also do the same for our nation, many of whom are wondering what has happened. And we pray for ourselves as we stand together against such an event. We can also think of our brothers and sisters within the family of God around the world and we cry out to God on their behalf; voices for the voice-less. For this sort of craziness can and does impact Christians fellowshipping together too. We too are open to all sorts of unfounded false accusations and misguided missiles of anger designed to cause harm and hurt.
But we must also remember that through all of this, in our state of weakness, our God stands alongside us, never leaving us nor forsaking us. Our God lifts us up from the mirey clay and sets our feet upon a rock. He has said that in our weakness we are strong, and that is because He is with us. Paul talked about the sorts of things he suffered for the Gospel, yet he could still always say, ‘yet I will trust in the Lord’. Habakkuk also said just such a thing for the truth is, no matter what we go through, in Christ we shall all be raised up with Him. Sometimes we simply have to lean in on God and hand it all to Him. There really is no other option.
So brothers and sisters in Christ, my friends and my family, remain strong together and for those outside our fellowship. Bear up one another. Encourage one another and above all, in such a time as this, love one another.