Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The God Who Suffers From Guantanemo to Boston

I began yesterday morning by reading the powerful first hand account of SAMIR NAJI al HASAN MOQBEL, a US prisoner at Guantanemo, who has been on a hunger strike with 40 fellow prisoners, since February 10th. The piece entitled “Gitmo Is Killing Me,” was published in the New York Times editorial page on April 15th.

The link is here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/opinion/hunger-striking-at-guantanamo-bay.html?_r=0

It describes in horrific detail the force feedings he and the 40 hunger strikers endure twice a day at Guantanemo. It also describes the injustice of being held for more than eleven years without being charged. The hopelessness that spawns such a desperate hunger strike. My heart was broken, my indignation burned. What could I do to put an end to this?

Then, yesterday afternoon, the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon. Three dead at the time of this writing, including an eight year old boy who was celebrating with his dad at the finish line.

I can’t imagine the blinding turn from euphoria to horror at that moment. For all the families and people there to celebrate. To honor the hours of individual training, dedication and discipline to accomplish such a feat. To simply rejoice and cheer for the best in all of us.

How my heart goes out to them, and my prayers for them offered as balm for their wounds. I suffer with them, weep with them and hold fast to the goodness, love and mercy I treasure, resisting the pull back to fear and blind retribution.

At worship this past Sunday, we talked about “why God continues to allow evil in the world,” and re-framed that question to a more Biblical perspective; “why God continues to suffer at the hand of evil in the world.” We reflected on a God who acts to transform evil, who pronounces words of forgiveness from the cross, and calls us to take up our cross and follow the Way of transformation and new life.

Many reject that God. The God who suffers evil, even to this day, in order to transform it. They prefer a god who declares war on evil. A god who commands them to take up arms against it.  This is a false god. No matter what religion claims it, no matter what culture demands it, no matter which people act on it.

To witness people suffering—any people—is to witness God suffering. To inflict pain on anyone is to inflict pain on God. To exploit human life, to waste it either by spilling blood or stealing dignity and hope, is to oppose the God who raised Jesus to new life and declares God’s final answer to evil.

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