Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hope walked out so Martin Richard could walk in


He was eight years old, a good age to be. A proper age.
As they say, time was on his side. Seems it always is till it the life-clock never moves again.
He was eight, the age that is just about as good as it gets, the age that wears well, when simmering body pain is still decades away. Worries? None to speak of. Responsibilities? None to worry about.
He was old enough for coach-pitch baseball, but not old enough to have to catch up to some kid pitching to him. Like those who remember a better, more innocent time when "organized" baseball simply meant throwing in your own backyard with a friend, it was hard to find him without a mitt and a ball on the weekends. Eight is such a proper age, a time when fun still exists and love isn't embarrassing, even love for a sister.
He was old enough to get some sweet memories out of visiting museums with classmates, but not too old as to have become bored by it all. He was young enough to storm the family automobile for enjoyable trips with the family, but old enough to slip away into alone-time on some of those trips. He was eight, and he was standing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on last year’s Patriot’ Day, waiting for his father on a cloudy Bostonian afternoon when life exploded and chaos trumped laughter, just beat the living heck out of it.
He was eight and a lifetime was waiting for him not to finish but to begin.
He was eight, a right proper age, the age he will stay ... forever.
Of the 150 plus persons harmed that day, a year ago, by flying debris, including ball bearings designed to do maximum damage, and glass, 10 or more were children. CHILDREN. Someone chose to pick on children, unarmed, unprotected children., they surely knew would be there, as they always are in Boston. Children who were simply happy to have a moment out of school for Patriots’ Day, the third Monday in April, in Boston. Children who were watching older siblings or parents working their way round 26 miles of Boston streets. Children playing in the huge crowd that still existed up to three hours past when the initial winners of the marathon crossed the finish line.
Children. Loved by their Abba furiously, wonderfully, unconditionally. Children in harm's way.
And one of those died.
His name was Martin Richard. His family, from Dorchester, Mass., was fairly well known in the area. Loved to ride his bike, and like many Bostonians, he loved baseball -- playing and following those Red Sox, who had finished an early baseball game that day before hell ascended into the City on a Hill. Oh, my goodness would Martin have loved the fact that they turned around and won the World Series. Oh, yes he would.
His front-tooth-missing smile was a common site in his neighborhood as he often played with his younger sister or some of his many friends. He, his mom and sister were near the finish line when the first bomb exploded, injuring his mom and sister badly and killing Martin.
He was one of three who died because some unimaginably idiotic and/or evil person or persons decided they would kill people at the end of the Boston Marathon. When the bombs blew, this little eight-year-old died, and another chunk of American innocence was destroyed. Ironically, just a while earlier he was photographed holding a sign that read in typical eight-year-old writing, “No more hurting people.” He made the sign in connection with the Trayvon Martin case.
No more hurting people, indeed.
In pondering what I would say to you this morning, this Easter morning, this celebration of life this morning, I thought back to Martin. Little Martin. Innocent Martin.
And I kind of thought what Easter means, and what it means is Martin Richard died, but he lives. I know this because Jesus died, and he lives.
This morning, let me say this as loudly as I can. What walked out of that empty tomb so very long ago was hope, a hope that the family of Martin Richard will see him again. When Jesus walked from the darkness that couldn’t capture him, hold him, put him down and out for good, into the light he had created so very long ago, death was beaten.
Knocked slam out.
There is a scene at the very end of the Passion of the Christ in which Jesus dies, head flopping down onto chest that wasn’t rising and falling. And what happens? Director Mel Gibson has the Devil screaming. Why? Jesus, the man-God, has just started the fight for life that the Devil can not win. Hear that. Can not win. Never will, again.
Oh, bright heaven’s Son, I pray today for all the Martin Richards who fell way too early. May they walk in the light of the Father.
Without the cross there is no salvation, I believe. Without the resurrection, however, there is a decided lack of hope. Messiahs, my dear Savior, don’t die.
But God’s who love us enough to die for us do exist.
This morning, I wish you the hope of Jesus. A man, not a budding religion. A man who died to make us well, to take the ball-bearings from bombs out of our bodies and make them whole once again.
Today I pray we remember, respect and reflect.
Boston Strong?
Nah. Jesus Strong.