“Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” (Psalm 44:22)
Today, 1 July, is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburgh, the turning point of the American Civil War, but a battle involving the largest number of casualities in the entire war.
On this day, we also pause to remember our brethren slaughtered by suspected al- shabaab terrorists in Garissa Town:
The masked attackers threw grenades into the Catholic Church compound. The explosion injured several people.
There was a further shock at what happened at the AIC Garissa church. Three masked men stormed into the church compound through the gate, with one going straight to the main church door where he detonated a hand grenade on worshipers. The other two, in a surprise ambush, shot dead the police guards who were on duty that day. They then rained bullets on fleeing worshippers, using police guns. Many of those who could not run tried to find safety in the church. There too they were shot ! This incident left 17 people dead and 65 people injured.
Today on the anniversary of this terrible atrocity we remember the 13 killed during worship at the AIC church: Edith Kaindi, Mbaluka Faith, Syombua Mwaniki, Irene Anyango Oula, Ivon Ngina ,Joel Musyoka, Mary Musila Muthami Katula, Nzangi Makau, Ruth Mbesa Mailu, Tabitha Kiwanzi, Mary Ivon (a child), Mwikali Makau, (a child).
What enable us to face such difficulty and transform us to be a faithful witnesses of God’s grace?
As attacks targeting Christians continue in this entire region, our departed loved ones and friends continue to inspire courage in us to stand firm! The words of the Psalmist (Ps 44:22) have also touched me on this Memorial Day.
“Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long…” Yes, we are continually or constantly being subjected to these calamities. It is not a single incident; it is a continued slaughter. In this verse we can sense the apprehension of the Psalmist. The true cause of the calamities which had come upon them was “for thy sake.” in other words, “on thy account; it is in thy cause; it is because we are your friends, and because we worship you…” The attack on us here is not on account of our sins; it is not because there is any prevalent idolatry, but it is because we are the worshippers of the true God, and we are, therefore, martyrs. All these calamities have come upon us in consequence of our attachment to you.
How then do we view death and tragedy of this magnitude?
Every time Christians suffer, we see in them the truth that Christ suffers too. Their blood is his own. Their tears are his very own. It is into this fellowship that we are invited to share.
Tohito Kagawa, a Japanese theologian, offers this reflection on death in his book Meditation. He says:
“I do not deny the eventuality of death, death lies sternly upon my course, nevertheless I believe that Love [the love of God] has far greater power than death. ‘death is swallowed up in love …’
Love is stronger than death, love’s glory tramples even death under feet, I am thinking that death is transformed through love. Death is an aspect of change, while love is the substance that persists through all changes.”
What happens to us is not FINAL, however grievous it appears now. The harm caused through pain has no final word on us. The pain we face today has boundaries. God watches and will help us through this if we trust him through our ordeal. In fact, the challenge of death is contained in the statement that Christ has the final say over the second death. There is a greater boundary that these things cannot break and that is the second boundary of God’s grace.
Here are some famous words found written on a scrap of paper beside the body of a dead child at the Ravensbrück concentration camp:
“Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill, but also those of ill will. Do not remember all the sufferings they have inflicted upon us; remember the fruits we bear, thanks to this suffering – our comradeship, our loyalty, our humanity, courage, generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of all this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.”
Canon Francis Omondi
Anglican Church of Kenya,
All saints cathedral diocese .