We heard it on the news. In Sri Lanka, during Easter Worship, Christians were targeted and killed. But we also heard that those of the Islamic faith were targeted and killed in a Mosque. Those of the Jewish Faith were targeted and killed while in their Synagogue.
One commentary said, are these all simply crimes against humanity. True enough. But the fact remains hatred exists because of race, religion, and just about any other classification that people get grouped into. For me this simply affirms why I say: “I am not religious. I am persuaded that Jesus came to do away with religion. And that God is about personal relationships which is why he sent His only begotten son to recover a family. There is One Lord, One Faith, One Father of us all, and it has NOTHING to do with religion.”
There is a wonderful song called, “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart”. A good indicator as to whether Jesus lives in a person is the fact that the person transformed by God’s love, will love others, NO EXCEPTIONS. This of course me that even though on a total political spectrum, or a total different race, or a total different religious background, ALL are loved.
A fascinating story that came from the Sri Lankan bomb blast is about a Sunday School class, half of which were killed. Minutes before the bomb when off, the children were asked: “Would you be willing to die for Christ?” They said yes. The words of one of the teachers is quite the story.
“Today at Easter Sunday school at the church and we asked the children how many of you willing to die for Christ? Everyone raised their hands. Minutes later, they came down to the main service and the blast happened. Half of the children died on the spot.” These are the words of Caroline Mahendran, a Sunday School teacher at the church.
The report came as the death toll from the bomb attacks on several churches and luxury hotels in the island nation, where Christians make up less than 10 percent of the 20 million population, rose to nearly 300 with at least 500 wounded. Fr. Kumaran, a pastor at Zion Church, told Times of India that he witnessed the death of many of the children shortly after conversing with the suicide bombing suspect he did not recognize. He saw the suicide bombing suspect carrying a bag at the steps of the church already filled with worshipers. “I asked him who he was and his name. He said he wanted to visit the church,” Kumaran said.
Shortly after, Kumaran walked toward the podium when he heard an explosion. When he turned around, the blood of his congregants, including many from the children’s Sunday School class, was splattered on the church walls. “Twenty-eight people were killed, among them 12 children. Two are critical.” The suicide bombing suspect blew himself up shortly after being questioned.
The bombings in Sri Lanka on Sunday also targeted St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, the capital; St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo; as well as high-end hotels in Colombo, including the Shangri-La, the Cinnamon Grand and the Kingsbury.
Fr. Kanapathipillai Deivendiran, who was scheduled to deliver the Easter Day message at Zion Church on Sunday, said had he not been running late, he may have been killed too. “I went a little after 9 a.m. I was a few minutes late or you will not be speaking to me now,” he said. “I didn’t know that there had been a blast a few minutes before that, I just walked into the premises. As I entered, I was shaken by the sight — walls had collapsed completely, there were bodies all over the floor,” he said.
Truly hard to imagine. Truly heart rending. Truly a matter of prayer for us all… not only for the victim’s families, but for the total breakdown of understanding that the message of Easter is for the whole world. God is love. And love will win! Not even death can stop God’s love! He is Risen and He is here!
Jim Carver, Pastor of Sanctuary Church