Published DateAfter a terrible week, we went to church, this past Sunday, and it was Good Shepherd Sunday. But when we walked into our churches, our hearts and minds probably weren't there. Instead, they were probably still down in Boston, where they had been, for all of last week.
Even though we live up here, in New Hampshire, Boston isn't all that far from us. Many of us might have personal ties to the metro-Boston area. Some of us might've lived there, before we moved up here. Some of us might still have family or friends there. Some of us might've had family and friends who were locked into their houses on Friday. Some of us might've had family and friends who ran or were at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
I've been to Boston more times than I can count, and to the Boston Marathon many times. I grew up in Maine, where Patriot's Day was a holiday, and my dad would take my sister and I into Boston. We'd go to Hopkinton for the start of the marathon, and we'd watch an endless wave of runners. Then we'd drive into the city, and go to the finish line. We'd always get there in time to watch Rick and Dick Hoyt cross the finish line. We'd stay in the city past dark, and go up into the Prudential Center, and see the city all lit up. It was always such a great day.
This past Monday morning started out as a great day for all those runners, and for the city of Boston. But then... This past week has been a rough week, a sad week, a terrible week, and maybe we're angry, or sad, or fearful, or maybe it feels like there isn't much we can do to prevent the next time that something awful like this happens.
However, there were some incredibly inspiring moments, this past week: the people who ran toward the bomb blast to help others, the first responders who saved so many lives, the skill of the staff at some of the finest hospitals in the world, the marathoners who ran a couple more miles to donate blood, the New York Yankees singing "Sweet Caroline", thoughtful and inspiring words from Mr. Rogers, the Lutheran comfort dogs, the dedication and hard work of law enforcement, and the lack of bigotry and hatred. Most people reacted with love, and compassion, and concern for neighbors, and we put on our race shirts on Tuesday, and our Boston shirts on Friday, and we lifted our neighbors in prayer, and from up here, in New Hampshire, and all across the country, our hearts and minds were in Boston, all week, this past week.
And then we showed up at church this past Sunday, and it was Good Shepherd Sunday, when we are reminded that our Lord Jesus will shepherd us through in times of need. And given the week we'd all just had, we were there, in need of some shepherding. And this past Sunday, we heard the familiar words of Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd... though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for you are with me." And we heard these words, from the Book of Revelation: "The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
And this past Sunday, we needed to hear that we have a God who loves us, and that we have a God who shepherds us. And this past Sunday, in the face of the tragedy and sorrow of the past week, we were reminded that we have a God who raises us up from everything and anything, and we were reminded that we have a God who brings resurrection, even out of terrible events like those we have witnessed in this past week.
(Rev. Dave Dalzell is the Pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Laconia, a congregation of the ELCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. www.goodshepherdnh.org