Questions, but no Answers, only Hope
A newborn baby boy was abandoned in an Episcopal Church's garden this week on a very, very cold day. He was found alive, but barely, by the sexton, and emergency responders took the baby to a local children's hospital, where he died from exposure.
The church held a memorial service for him today. Before the service began, the bells began to toll. Inside, the church was nearly full; the rector said that three-quarters of the people were from the community at large, and one-fourth were his parishioners. The rector told the assembled faithful that he had no answers for them, only the same questions they did... how could this unimaginable thing happen? Who were this child's parents and what drove them to make this awful decision? How were we supposed to respond to such a tragedy? What are we to do with our outrage? He said he had no answer, he only knew to ask God for mercy, for mercy on the child, for mercy on his parents, and for mercy upon us who simply do not know how to respond. Then he reminded us of Teresa of Avila's poem that implores us to remember that we are now the only hands and feet and hearts God has in this world. He said that to ask God the question, why don't you fix this world? would be answered, perhaps, by God's imploring us, why don't you who are my hands and feet in this world use your hands to hold one another in love and use your hands to restore the world to the paradise God made it to be? We are all made in God's image, from that baby boy to his parents to the police and paramedics to all of us. We are all of us children of God and together the Body of Christ. And as that Body, we are to hold out hope to the world, to be and live out hope to the world, even in the face of senseless death.
I assisted the rector with administering communion. The first folks to arrive at the altar rail were the local police and the paramedics who had attended to the baby boy. Other local clergy were there from the neighboring Methodist and Presbyterian churches. The elderly and infirm knelt side by side with parents with their young children in tow. We nearly gave out of wine - for nearly everyone in the room came to communion.
This was the church being church. When tragedy strikes, all gather together at the church, all come together at God's table, to ask for mercy and for strength to be God's hands and feet in this broken and beautiful world, in the hope that this will never happen again.