God of the Finish Line
Admittedly, over these past few days, it has been nearly impossible for me to pray. Yes, me. The graduate student of theology; the baptized follower of Jesus Christ. It’s not because evil events like what happened here in Boston on Monday call into question God’s existence for me. No, far from it. Rather, its because events such as the Boston Marathon bombing have left me speechless in the face of such great evil … and I’m just now beginning to find my voice.
If anything, my faith in God has been deepened by this tragic event. When I learned that the bombs were made in pressure cookers that had nails and other bits of harmful objects in them, I could not help but think of the crucifixion.
We Christians believe in a humble God, a God who took on human flesh in and through the person of Jesus Christ. Our God could not be any closer to humanity, any closer to the human experience of those who were at the finish line on Monday. God knows what it feels like to have nails tear through human flesh. God knows what it is like to bleed from a traumatic injury. And God knows what it is like to die. Because all of this happened to Jesus Christ, our crucified God. The same evil that was present in the world that killed our God is the same evil that planted those bombs at the finish line on Monday. God is no stranger to evil; God is the victim of it.
We Christians also believe in a victorious God, a God who triumphed over death. Evil did not have the last word because nothing can kill God in the end. Jesus Christ’s crucified body was resurrected on the third day. Yes, this is the good news. But, Jesus Christ’s body was forever marked with the wounds of the crucifixion. Victorious over death, our God came back to life, but our God was disabled.
Three people have died and many other people’s lives – and bodies – have been forever changed. Many lost limbs in the blast and many others had extremities removed due to the wounds that were inflicted by the shrapnel. These once non-disabled folks will have to re-integrate into a society where disability is “other” to ability… and they will firsthand be denied equal access to the privilege that so many non-disabled people enjoy. The disabled are stigmatized. And God knows about stigma, too. The glorious, resurrected body is a disabled body that bears the wounds from the cross.
Human beings are the cause of evil, not God. Let us never forget the wisdom of Martin Richards, the eight-year-old boy whose life was tragically cut short on Marathon Monday: “No more hurting people. Peace.”
And let us heed the thoughtful words that our president offered us today in Boston: “We finish the race and we do that because of who we are. And we do that because we know that somewhere around the bend, a stranger has a cup of water. Around the bend, somebody’s there to boost our spirits. On that toughest mile, just when we think that we’ve hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall.”
And so, together, let us run with endurance the race that is before us. Grace and peace to you all.