Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Holding Out the Word of Life

Our family has been deeply challenged by the witness of the Lancaster Amish community in response to the recent killing of five of their school children.

"We think it was God's plan and we're going to have to pick up the pieces and keep going," a member of the community said. "A funeral to us is a much more important thing than the day of birth because we believe in the hereafter. The children are better off than their survivors."

Just as powerful as these hopeful words is the picture of genuine love and concern painted in the words of an Associated Press article published today. It was reported that an Amish man came to the gunman's family home to comfort the family. "[The Amish man] stood there for an hour, and he held [the father of the gunman] in his arms, and he said, 'We will forgive you."

Another Amish women explained: "We have to forgive. We have to forgive him in order for God to forgive us."

The New York Times reported that the Amish have started a charity fund not only to serve the victim's families but also to help the gunman's widow.

I believe this Amish community has left us a very clear sketch of gospel living. They have clothed an act of hatred in a bath of love and shown that love truly cleanses a multitude of sins. Never before has reading the New York Times felt so similar to reading the Sermon on the Mount.

The Amish have said that their response to tragedies has been helped by an approach to life that they call "yieldedness." They have yielded themselves by faith to believe that all things work together for the good of those who love God. And it seems that therein they have found, perhaps not answers, but peace. We wait for the other side of the Jordan to tell the remainder of the story.

NY Times: Strong Faith and Community May Help Amish Cope With Loss, Oct. 4
AP: Amish Forgive, Pray and Mourn After School Shooting, Oct. 4