Many of you have heard that there was a sniper shooting late last night and early this morning at the Presbyterian Church here in Moscow. We don’t know many details, but our thoughts and prayers are of course with the victims, and with their families.
We also pray for the congregation at the Presbyterian Church, which has had its house of worship violated in a grotesque way. Many of us here were at the Presbyterian Church just yesterday afternoon for the celebration of the Telling/Johnson wedding, and incidents like this bring certain truths home. We should ponder them, reflect on them, meditate on them.
Centrally, this murderous assault tears the veneer off, and we see the true condition of the human race. This is why we have sanctuaries; this is why we need to call on the Lord. We are a sinful race, and at the very heart of our sinfulness is our willingness to shed blood.
At the same time, we are appalled by bloodletting, and so we turn away from it in various ways. This is the source of all humanistic forms of worship—a deep desire to draw a discrete veil over such things. The desire is to pretend that we are not that bad, that we are not that sinful.
So as we worship this morning, we need to call to remembrance the fact that the Christian faith centers on the proclamation and commemoration of a murder. Christ died on the cross, and He died there so that the human race could be made new. But the human race can only be made new by confronting the meaning of that murder, and the centrality of it.
Sacrifice that is brushed off to the side will always come back with a vengeance. Murder denied and suppressed is murder that still lurks. But murder confronted by faith in the death of Jesus is the end of murder and hatred. As the gospel goes forth, we preach that they will not hurt or destroy in all His holy mountain. We long for that day.