April Pastor’s letter
Shock and dismay! These words describe my state of mind as we go into the Easter month this year. Shock at the witness of unchecked brutality unleashed by the Russian people. And dismay that human civilization has progressed so little toward the values of the Kingdom of God. I was living in a bubble, telling myself that all was better than it was. I had hoped for more.
I’m sure many of you share my sentiments, but others may have had a prior pessimism about human affairs. Certainly, perceptive people of color were more pessimistic. “Oh, now you notice,” one African-American person opined. She is referring to the genocidal events that have occurred throughout the globe in recent years which have received far less public attention and reaction. In an effort to make up for this lack, on March 21, Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, added the Rohingya people of Myanmar as the 8th ethnic genocide recognized by the United States since 1990. Others include Bosnian Muslims, Hutus in Rwanda, Hutus in Burundi, Kurds in Iraq, and Muslims in Kosovo, Darfuris in Sudan, and Yazidis by ISIS. And, of course, we people of the United States have our own skeletons in the closet and an understandable resistance to airing our own business to the world.
Using murder as a benchmark of human brutality, one might say the world has not progressed as far as we would have hoped toward living in peace. Even Christian nations like Russia, and historically Germany and the United States, engage in genocidal atrocities.
For Christians, the brutality of Jesus’ crucifixion is also a benchmark -a benchmark of God’s love for humanity. That God would so loved the world to send his beloved Son to undergo the worst brutality that human beings can inflict on one another is nothing short of incredible. And, of course, had he not risen from the dead, his death would have had the same effect on the overall picture as the death of every other victim of human violence, which is not enough or none at all.
But, he did rise, and because of that, we know that the end point of all this suffering is the end of it. One day there will be perfect justice and perfect peace. That is the promise of the Kingdom of God. I had just hoped that we were further along.
So, for this Easter, let us rededicate ourselves to following Jesus. This will not be easy because we would rather not have to make sacrifices. But, as Dietrich Bonhoffer pointed out during the greatest genocide of all time, there is a cost to discipleship. For Bonhoffer, it was his life. For Ukrainians who defend their homeland, it may be their lives. For our armed forces who die in the course of duty or training, it is their lives. For the rest of us, we need to honor those sacrifices and most of all, remember the sacrifice of Jesus, through which we have hope. And dedicate our lives to the progress of justice and non-violence in our stations in life.
Peace… Pastor Dale