In Contrast to the Ugliness
The scene at the finish line  of the Boston Marathon shortly after one of two bombs exploded April 15 (Photo by Aaron "tango" Tang)
The scene at the finish line of the Boston Marathon shortly after one of two bombs exploded April 15 (Photo by Aaron “tango” Tang)

By Mark A. Taylor

Robert Randolph, minister with the Brookline Church of Christ in Boston, described Monday, April 15, as a “terribly emotional day” for Boston. Christian Chronicle reported that Randolph was providing an energy drink for his daughter Margaret Randolph a few miles from the finish line when the first bomb exploded. She had sprained her ankle and was running slower than usual. Otherwise, “we would have been at the finish line when the bombs went off,” Randolph said, according to the Chronicle.

Hank Wilson, pastor with REUNION Christian Church in Boston, met with his ministry team early Tuesday, the morning after the bombings. A baptism service was scheduled for that night, and he suggested they postpone it. “To their credit, everyone I asked—our staff, our elders, the people being baptized, and attenders at REUNION—all said, ‘No way, we must do it,’” he said. “We had an incredibly moving time of prayer and then an opportunity to celebrate new life in the midst of death. What a joy to watch eight people take that step of faith and celebrate their stories.”

Randolph, who also serves as chaplain for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the Boston bombings may have a greater impact on young adults than older generations. For them, “this is their 9/11,” he told the Chronicle.

Friday night, April 19, cable news channels showed crowds of those young adults reveling in the street after the last of the bombing suspects, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured. Jason Rodenbeck, in his post at this site yesterday, questions whether revelry was the right response. “To me, the ‘victory’ seemed awfully hollow,” he wrote. “Retributive justice doesn’t undo violence. It’s still hopeless. It’s still dark. And there are many more ‘bombers’ out there.”

Wilson echoed an initial sense of helplessness when he spoke of the church’s commitment to pray. “It’s hard to pray and only pray,” he said. Although the church has reached out to local families, so far REUNION has found no opportunity to serve a family with meals or some other kind of support. But Wilson says he’s learned that “prayer may be the most important ‘work’ we can do” when an opportunity to serve with hands and feet hasn’t presented itself. “Real change in an individual or in our world can happen only as a result” of God’s transforming power, he said.

And then he added this reflection: “As difficult as this last week has been, it certainly has served as a powerful reminder of the depths of our sin and our need for Jesus. After it’s all said and done, we pray that the ugliness of these bombings will stand in stark contrast to the beauty of Jesus’ salvation and restoration of broken people.”

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