Tragedy has struck again, this time in our neighboring city of Boston.  The bombing of the Boston Marathon on Monday has once again brought us face to face with the senselessness of violence and death.  The day after the event I read the reports in the papers and followed the story online, not knowing exactly how to respond.  Certainly our prayers go out for those who were killed and wounded, and for families and communities that have been most directly affected by the event.  But beyond that, what words do we need to hear?  What can be said other than to express our sorrow and heartfelt grief?

Tuesday evening in my Modern Church History class the answer came.  Each evening opens with a brief devotion led by members of the class.  Even before the bombing on Monday the group that was leading the devotional exercise for this particular evening had chosen to build it around a series of readings.  Their theme for the evening was “Courage.”  They talked about finding the courage to live and what Tillich called “the courage to be.”  “Watch!” said one person. “Stand fast in the faith!” said another.  “Be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for God,” read a third.  One person quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” Other quotes followed.  I realized that I had been given the word I most needed to hear the day after the Boston bombing, four months after the Newtown killings, eight months after the Oak Creek killings ….

To all who have experienced loss in the Boston bombings, we send our deepest sympathies, with prayers for you and your loved ones.  As we look yet one more tragedy in the face may we have the courage to continue to trust God, be present where we are called in places of need, and remind one another that tragedy does not get the last word in history; life does.

Dale T. Irvin

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