Thursday, April 19, 2007

"Beyond the tragedy"

GetReligion quotes from the sermon Billy Graham delivered at the memorial service after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. That was another senseless, evil act, not unlike the murders at Virginia Tech. His words then are relevant now:
As a Christian, I have hope not just for this life but for the life to come. Someday, there will be a glorious reunion with those who have died and gone to heaven before us. And that includes all those innocent children that are lost. They’re not lost from God because any child that young is automatically in heaven and in God’s arms.

But this — this event also reminds us of the brevity and uncertainty of life. It reminds us that we never know when we’re going to be taken. I doubt if even one of those who went to that building to work, or to go to the children’s place, ever dreamed that that was their last day on earth. That is why we each need to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God.

It’s ironic that this terrible event took place just three days after the churches of this city were filled with people celebrating Easter. Just one week ago today. And throughout the world, the Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter on this day. And Easter always brings hope to all of us. For the Christian, the Cross tells us that God understands our suffering, for He took upon Himself at the Cross all of our sins and all of our failures and all of our sufferings. And our Lord on that Cross asked the question: “Why? My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” And He received his answer. He knew: To redeem the world. To save you and me from our sins. To give us assurance that if we died we’re going to heaven. He was saying from the Cross, “I love you!” And I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pain that you feel.

Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the Cross to the hope of the empty tomb. It tells us that there’s hope for eternal life, that Christ has conquered death. And it also tells us that God has triumphed over evil and death and hell. This is our hope, and it can be your hope as well.
He closed the sermon with:
President and [...] Mrs. Clinton will remember at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington earlier this year Ambassador Andrew Young, who'd gone through the terrible agony of losing his beloved wife whom he loved so much to cancer - he closed his talk at your prayer breakfast with a quote from an old hymn: "How firm a foundation." The 4th verse of that hymn says:
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never, forsake!
My prayer for you today is that you will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around you and will know in your heart that he will never forsake you, as you trust Him.
Source: American Rhetoric: Reverend Billy Graham: Oklahoma Bombing Memorial Prayer service

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