I’m departing from the usual commentary on yesterday’s sermon for this week’s blog. That seems especially old news today because like you, I awoke this morning to the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by American Navy Seals and his body buried at sea. It’s difficult to know what to write because this news is either too fresh or too long in coming, depending on one’s perspective now nearly ten years after 9/11. Bear with me in these early thoughts.
Like you, I remember vividly where I was and what I was doing when the attack began on the World Trade Center. I will never forget the hours that followed as Americans feared the worst in ways never before experienced. I know that it was critical to my personal well-being in those hours of horror to be at my church. I needed to be with people; specifically I needed to pray with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I worked together as part of a staff team that hastily planned a worship service for that night. It was a relief to have something tangible to do, and the church was packed with others who needed to be there too . We were drawn to and strangely comforted by being with others who were just as confused and frightened. For a few years after, we would observe the day again in worship, remembering our grief and praying for peace and an end to the evil scourge of terrorism.
As details are now emerging from this super-secret mission, I am grateful for the bravery and competence displayed from the early planning stages to last night’s raid. I am grateful there was not more loss of life. I give thanks for whatever closure Bin Laden’s death has for families who still grieve not just here in the United States but throughout the world wherever this evil has struck and killed. I celebrate the new life and development that is emerging from the Ground Zero site. I pray Bin Laden’s death is an end to terror, though I’m realistic enough to know it most likely is not the end.
But I cannot as a Christian rejoice over killing anyone.
I have called to mind several scriptures this morning. Among them are these: Proverbs 24.17, Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice; Ezekiel 18.32, I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord; From Romans 12: Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all….. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. And from Jesus according to Matthew 5:43-44, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Perhaps you have been reminded of other passages.
I’m working through all of this myself and have been reading whatever I can find from voices I respect. Here are some links that may be helpful to you as well
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/religion/ (“The Christian Response to Bin Laden’s Death,” “Muslim-Americans React,” “Hate Osama but do not rejoice in his death”, etc.)
http://blog.sojo.net/2011/05/02/how-should-we-respond-to-the-death-of-osama-bin-laden/ by Jim Wallis of Sojourners.
http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/on-waking-up-to-todays-news.html by Brian McLaren.
I invite your comments and do not expect that you’ll agree with everything that I”ve posted. I encourage you to do some digging on your own and would welcome your sharing that with me.
Yesterday we heard Christ’s words to the disciples as he breathed on them the Holy Spirit : Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. And we are sent charged with living as Christ taught us to live which was how he lived. The memory of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are fresh enough in my mind and heart for me to realize just how difficult it is to follow him. The joy, hope, and promise of Easter tells me that I’ve got to keep at it.