What can we pray and convey for Sri Lanka after Easter Sunday 2019?
Four days on from the Sri Lanka attacks on Easter Sunday on churches and hotels we now know more than 350 people were killed.
A number of people have contacted me checking my personal family and friends are not directly affected. Thanks to all of you for your concern, and as far as we know our family are safe. Of course, others will be much more directly affected.
At some point soon, the media coverage will inevitably move on to focus on other events. For now, whilst the tragic events are still uppermost in people’s thoughts, we can call on Christians to firstly pray and then to work for peace and to convey values that are the complete opposite of the perpetrators’ intentions.
The attacks on Easter Sunday were, and must be shown to be in every way, a senseless act of violence.
If the aim was revenge then the attacks were senselessly misplaced.
The victims had no connection with previous atrocities in New Zealand or elsewhere and our response must firstly be to pray against reprisals and then to display actions that follow Christ’s example and point to an alternative way of living rather than one driven by retaliation and revenge.
If the aim was to divide people then the attacks were senselessly misjudged.
These atrocities unite fair minded people of all faiths and none. Sri Lanka is a country that has had more than its share of divisions but these atrocities bring together the overwhelming majority who believe in both freedom of religious expression and freedom to travel. Our response must firstly be to pray against divisiveness and then to act in a way that fosters unity, liberty and respect for others rather than division.
If the aim was to diminish the church then the attacks were again senselessly mistaken.
Church history points in the opposite direction, the church has consistently grown when under threat and attack. Our response must firstly be to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith and then to work for religious freedom for all.
Finally, if the aim was to hijack Easter Sunday with sorrow instead of joy, then the attacks senselessly misunderstood the truths of the Easter Message.
Our faith always has room to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep and our churches were capable of powerfully doing both last Sunday, as we do each Sunday. Our response must firstly be to pray for those who have lost loved ones and then to act in a way that conveys the Christian message of hope, help and forgiveness, even when facing senseless acts of violence.