Tuesday, March 22, 2016 — As the world entered the third day of Holy Week, it did so recalling images from “September 11th” in the United States, with people covered in dust from falling debris; recalling the screams of people fleeing in Paris; remembering the parents mourning children from Northern Nigeria to central Kenya. Mothers with children and the elderly waited the longest 10 minutes of their lives for help in evacuating, as security personnel charged with helping them tried to make their way through their own shock and disbelief.
Brussels, Belgium, joined the growing ranks of cities targeted for terror and destruction about 7:00 GMT this morning. Though the statistics are still changing, at last count 34 people lost their lives and 230 were injured when bombs exploded at the Brussels International Airport and 7 miles away at a metro station during rush hour. Some say the horror and trauma were a message to the European Union, whose headquarters are nearby; others that the terrible loss inflicted was in retaliation for the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, one of those responsible for the Paris attacks last fall. ISIS has laid claim to the carnage.
Leaders from around the world joined in condemning the loss of innocent life. Belgium’s Prime Minister called the attacks “blind, violent and cowardly,” saying, “This is a day of tragedy. I call on everyone to show calmness and solidarity.” “Terrorists struck Brussels, ” said President Francois Hollande of France, “but it was Europe that was targeted . . . and all the world is concerned.” “This is yet another reminder that the world must unite . . . in fighting against the scourge of terrorism, “ said United States President, Barak Obama.
We must unite, but the question is around what? We who are of the Christian faith are in a week dedicated to recalling the Passion of Christ and his eventual Resurrection. Luke in the 19th chapter of his Gospel says that as Jesus rode into the Holy City he wept, uttering these words: “A time is coming when your enemies will raise fortifications all around you, when they will encircle you and hem you in on every side; they will dash you and the children inside your walls to the ground; they will leave not one stone standing on another within you—and all because you did not recognize your opportunity for peace.”
As we pray for our brothers and sisters caught in the indiscriminate horror of violence and traumatic loss, let us also not miss our opportunity for peace. “We are one, after all, you and I,” wrote de Chardin, “together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.” Let us pray with everything within us that the bad things happening in our world not blind us to the opportunity for peace or the allincluding love of God. Let us pray that the violence we, as a human family, have once again experienced, recreate in us a right spirit, a spirit that leads us to the kind of re-examination of our lives and recreation of our communities that will make it possible for us to live together as the one people of God.
In sorrow, in faith, and in hope,
The MCC Council of Elders
Metropolitan Community Churches
We come to you once again mourning the loss
of your children in Belgium.
As you receive the dead into your Holy Presence,
please be with the surviving and bring comfort and healing to each heart.
We know Your heart is broken once again.
Look upon the world You have made with mercy.
Cleanse our hearts of their propensity toward violence and retaliation,
violence and retaliation ~ the endless cycle,
and help us to come together in a way that will re-establish
Your vision of peace and goodwill prevailing.
Help us to direct our grief and the energy of our losses
toward the things that will make for swords being hammered into plowshares,
and an end to all our sorrows.
Help us to remember Jesus’ example on the cross ~ those words about forgiveness
for those who don’t really get what they are doing, and that promise that today
can be more like Paradise than horror for us, if we are willing to follow in his footsteps.
Help us, we pray, in Jesus’ name. +Amen