Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ashamed of the Gospel? Missed Opportunity at Virginia Tech

By Frank Pastore
Sunday, April 22, 2007

Let's test your knowledge of world religions. Below is the entire message
delivered by one of the four religious leaders at last week's convocation at
Virginia Tech, in the aftermath of the horrible mass murders that left 32
dead and 21 injured.

The test is simple: determine the religion being represented.

We gather this afternoon for many purposes. To weep for lost friends and
family, to mourn our lost innocence, to walk forward in the wake of
unspeakable tragedy, to embrace hope in the shadow of despair, to join our
voices in a longing for peace, and healing, and understanding which is much
greater than any single faith community. To embrace that which unifies, and
to reject the seductive temptation to hate. We gather to share our hurts and
our hopes, our petitions and our prayers.

We gather also to drink deeply of the religious streams which have refreshed
parched peoples for many generations. We gather together, weeping. Yes, we
weep with an agony too deep for words and sighs that are inexpressible. But
also we gather affirming the sovereignty of life over death.

At a time such as this, the darkness of evil seems powerful indeed. It casts
a pall over our simple joys, joys as simple as playing Frisbee on the drill
field. We struggle to imagine a future beyond this agony. If we ever
harbored any illusions that our campus is an idyllic refuge from the
violence of the rest of the world, they are gone forever. And yet, we come
to this place to testify that the light of love cannot be defeated.

Amid all our pain, we confess that the light shines in the darkness and the
darkness has not overcome it. We cannot do everything, but we can do
something. We cannot banish all darkness, but we can by joining together,
push it back. We can not undue yesterday's tragic events, but we can sit in
patient silence with those who mourn as they seek for a way forward.

As we share light, one with another, we reclaim our campus, let us deny
death's power to rob us of all that we have loved about Virginia Tech, this
our community. Let us cast our lot with hope in defiance of despair. I
invite you to observe a moment of silence.

Difficult, isn't it?

The message was delivered by Reverend William H. King, Director of Lutheran
Campus Ministries at Virginia Tech, and a member of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA). The video of the message is available online.

Each of the four speakers were there to represent their religion, to bring
the message of comfort and hope rooted in their faith tradition. The Muslim
speaker read passages from the Koran in Arabic and appealed to Allah, the
Jewish speaker read from Ecclesiastes 3 while an assistant repeated the
passages in Hebrew, the Buddhist quoted the Dalai Lama, while the Christian
did not even quote from the Bible, nor mention the name of Jesus - the
namesake of his religion.

What Mr. King said should be studied in every seminary in America. It is
precisely what not to do when given the opportunity to bring the message of
the Gospel of Jesus to those grieving the loss of loved ones and struggling
to make sense of the evil visited upon them.

The nearest thing to Christianity anyone heard at the Convocation was the
playing of Amazing Grace and the unison recitation of The Lord's Prayer.
There was far more Bible coming from the pews than being preached from the


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