Dear St. Luke’s Community,

You, like me, were no doubt horrified as the events unfolded in Blacksburg, VA this week. We were living in the Denver area when the events of Columbine High School unfolded nine years ago. What struck me this week is that unlike that day, I did not find myself experiencing the profound surprise and shock that I did when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on their rampage. I didn’t glue myself to the television. In fact, I have tried to avoid all the media buzz. There seems to be such a feeding frenzy when something like this happens.

I spend some time wondering just why that might be. I suspect it is because it happens more frequently than ever before. I suspect that the unblinking eye of the media brings more of it to our attention. I suspect that after the events of September 11, 2001 we have lost a great deal of our naiveté about our relative safety in the world.

After I’ve spent that time, I spend some more time thinking about what we as Christians ought to DO in the face of such unspeakable and senseless horror perpetrated by one human being on other human beings. For now I’m not talking about how to prevent such things. It seems to me that is the role of folks who determine public policy. What we can do, however, is be intentional about our response to such events. Of course our initial response and prayer goes out to the victims of such violence. What of the perpetrators? If our sympathy lies only with the victim, we rob some of Jesus’ teaching some of its counter cultural impact. Look to Luke’s Gospel for instance. Jesus says here in the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:27-38):

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.

30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.

31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;

38 give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

We should of course keep the victims and their families in the forefront of our prayers. Having said that, we should also find the grace and courage to prayer for the young man who did such horrible things and the suffering his family must be enduring as well. I believe it breaks the heart of God to see any of his children die so desperate and apparently without hope.

I know it’s hard to prayer for those who persecute us or others. But really, who needs it more than they? Pray for it all, give it all to God.

Peace and Good,

The Rev. Warren Earl Hicks, Rector
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
921 Pleasant St.
Worcester, MA 01602
508-756-1990 (Office)
508-756-8277 (Fax)

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