There is a song by a music group, which will be unknown to many of us, which asks the pertinent question: Have you read the news today? There are no doubt times when we feel that the answer we prefer to give is, “I’d rather not, because sometimes it is just too hard to comprehend and too demoralising to the human spirit.” This was surely brought home to us following the breaking news we woke up to on Easter morning of the dreadful terrorist attack on innocent women, children and men in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. Some of the victims were from our own region. It was made all the more distressing because it took place on a day, which for Christians, focuses on celebration, the celebration of life over death, hope over despair and joy over sadness.
Let us call the act for what it was. It was despicable and cowardly and it showed the worst side of our common humanity. In a word, it was sinful. The immense pain, hurt and loss of those who have been caught up in the atrocity is plain for all to see, and if it was the ultimate goal of the perpetrators to cause such misery then they have succeeded, but what a hollow victory! One thing I don’t want to do, however, is to concentrate our thoughts only on the mindless devastation caused to the lives of many by the warped ideology and theology of those who were involved in the attack, or simply for me to rant against it. They certainly weren’t representative of their faith.
For me what has emerged from this is the personal stories of lives which made such a positive impact on those who knew them best. We have simply been given little pen pictures of who they were and what they did, but it is clear each one left a valuable legacy. I’m moved too by the stories of beautiful children, whose stay was so short lived, yet who brought a special ray of sunshine to their families and friends. I think of another tragic loss in recent days, that of Lyra McKee the journalist from Northern Ireland, again, needlessly killed, but whose death brought people together across the Province to celebrate another beautiful life.
Then, I think of one more beautiful life which was cut short in its prime on a hill outside Palestine two thousand years ago. And Christians will never stop celebrating the life of Christ. It will not be defeated by the bomb or the bullet, or the sin of humankind. Jesus rose above all of that and took the worst that humanity could throw against Him, rising victorious over evil and strife. It is love which never ends, as the Scriptures remind us, and it is this we must surely honour and hold fast to if there is to be hope for a better world. We remember those who mourn, but we must also set our hope on tomorrow and all the good at work in the everyday world by everyday people.