In split seconds, 253 were dead and hundreds were wounded, churches and hotels shattered as Islamist suicide bombers launched their Easter Day slaughter in Sri Lanka.
While this is horrifying, the defiling of human wellbeing on the most important day of Christian celebrations, is not new. On Easter of 2017, 47 Egyptians were killed and 126 injured when Coptic churches were bombed.
Sri Lanka is not new to killings and war. One hundred fifty thousand were killed during the 25-year-long civil war, a political conflict between the majority Sinhalese (who tend to be Buddhist) and Tamil (who tend to be Hindu) which ended in 2009.
- Globalization intensifies tribalization, so that while the world seems to be getting smaller, people will generate almost fanatical identity with their ethnic and/or religious grouping.
- Assumptions that the secular would take over can trigger the opposite, driving extreme forms of fundamentalism in both ideology and religion.
- Some political leaders find a willing and compelling bedpartner with their country’s majority faith, creating a hyper-religious nationalism which is the most diabolical of voices to reverse.
- As the witness of Christ expands into cultures and countries historically closed to the gospel, hatred raises its ugly face attempting to countermand the Shalom of the gospel.
What then must we do?
- In the aftermath of death and human sorrow, pray for those who bring solace and comfort, that they will be strong in love and faith.
- The immediate effect might be police overreach, bringing violation against minorities. Pray for wisdom and grace among civic and military leadership.
- Pray for political leadership—whoever is in control—that the conflicts which opened the door to terrorism will be set aside for the good of the people and their country.
- Pray for Christians who, in this time of such colossal sorrow and hurt, will be the light of Christ in the darkness of this moment. May it be our prayer that Sri Lankans will know there is only one life that neutralizes hatred and evil, the life of Jesus, filled with grace, mercy and justice.