Carol Hallman: Our hearts are tired
At the beginning of Holy Week we find ourselves again in mourning and lamentation.
Our hearts are tired of the pain and suffering we see in our world. Our hearts are tired of the pain and suffering inflicted by terrorists in the name of their god. And we have to wonder. Did Jesus death make any difference at all in the suffering of this world? Does Jesus death make any difference to the children dying of hunger and preventable disease in sub-Saharan Africa? Does Jesus death make any difference to the children looking for food in the garbage piles outside cities like Bogota? Does Jesus death make any difference to the woman whose husband beats her and her children? Does Jesus death stop the violence and end the suffering in the world?
The answer is that Jesus death is only part of the story. The rest of the story will be told on Sunday morning by the women who go to the tomb. It is a story of life, and not death. It is a story of hope and not despair, of promise and possibility, It is a reminder of the love that God has poured out for each and every one of us.
These terrorist attacks and all the rest of the painful things that we see in the world are only part of the story. It depends on what we do, how we respond to what we see, what we know. Will we allow fear and that sense of overwhelming grief and loss to keep us from living? Will we allow it to have the final word?
That’s what Easter is about. It’s about that final word. In the face of evil, in the face of the worst humanity could do at, in the face of death, God said this is not the end. Death is not the final word. Pain and suffering are not the final words. In the resurrection we find that love wins. Not hate, not discrimination, not violence, not pain; love wins. Love is the final answer.
That doesn’t mean however, that suffering doesn’t continue in this world. It does. We know it does. Sometimes that suffering touches us.
Let me share a story. I heard on NPR about immigrants coming to a small German town called Clausnitz. Clausnitz has a population of 900 and is primarily a small farming area, located in Saxony about three miles from the border with the Czech Republic, tucked into the foothills of the Ore Mountains. When the immigrants arrived there they were greeted by an angry mob of protestors who formed around the bus. It had to be pretty scary for the immigrants who had little choice about where they were taken for resettlement. The video of the mob went viral and caught the attention of Marc Lalonde, a Canadian transplant living in the city of Dresden. It inspired him to organize a mini relief effort on Facebook.
He felt that he needed to help because he knows the area and thought that this little town really was just more afraid than anything. Most people in Clausnitz had never experienced many people different from themselves, many had never met a foreigner before. So Marc’s group, Helfergruppe Clausnitz, has helped the seven immigrant families, as well as residents of Clausnitz.“We started collecting donations, for example, winter clothing. They also needed cups and plates and knives,” said Lalonde. His group also managed to provide the newly arrived refugees bicycles, cable television and Internet access, to connect with family members back home.
“We basically just wanted to show them that the people in front of the bus do not represent all of Saxony, all of Clausnitz, all of Germany,” he said.
This, my friends is the difference Easter can make. It is an Easter story that we see in Clausnitz.
So yes, holy week is all about the darkness of the human soul but I promise you, there is more, oh so much more that God promises as Easter dawns. It may look like the same old world but with the resurrection it’s new. There are a myriad of possibilities before us and a promise from our Creator that the world will indeed be redeemed and it will be done; it is done through love.
This week I encourage you to look around, open your eyes and see, the glimpses of Easter even in the midst of the darkness of Good Friday.
Carol Hallman is resident minister at First UCC, 207 W. Horah St.