May 02, 2011

Special Monday Post: On Bin Laden's Death

This is an excerpt from the article I'm submitting for this week's church newsletter....

My sons are 9 and 13. Next year, the youngest will start middle school and the oldest will start high school. It’s amazing how fast the years go by.

Even so, it remains that one of the most important rituals in our house comes when I read to my sons before bed. Over Spring Break, our schedule didn’t allow this to happen, so on Sunday evening, we resumed our normal routine with enthusiasm. Both boys were looking forward to reading the chapter of the Gringotts break-in in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; the youngest, because he’s never read it before, and the oldest, because he has.

We were about to begin. I was just waiting for the youngest one to come to the bedroom. He was saying goodnight to his mom, who was in the living room with the TV on. Finally he enters the bedroom, waving his arms and doing a funky dance that only a 9 year-old could do, and starts singing, “Bin Laden is dead, Bin Laden is dead…”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes, they just said so on TV.”

I said to him, “You know, I don’t think it makes God happy to have any of his children die. Not even Bin Laden.” He didn’t say anything, but he did stop dancing.

For the next half-hour, we read an exciting tale of dragons and gold and adventure. As we neared the end of the chapter, we were startled to hear some fireworks that one of our neighbors had shot off. Apparently, the whole world was now celebrating Bin Laden’s death.

As I said good night and turned out the light, I was reminded of another story, this one from long ago. The Hebrew people were suffering under a ruler who was at that time the world’s greatest terrorist. Pharaoh was ruthless. He took away the people’s freedom. In order to prevent them from becoming too powerful, he even ordered that their sons should be killed.

God saved the Hebrew people by leading them through the Red Sea. When Pharaoh’s army pursued, God allowed the sea to swallow them up.

Jewish legend says that the Hebrews then began to rejoice, but that God stopped them, saying, “Do not rejoice, for those Egyptians were my children, too.”

I am thankful that Bin Laden is no longer able to orchestrate terror and instill fear. I am thankful for those who work for justice in our world.

But I cannot bring myself to rejoicing over the death of one of God’s children.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This is exactly how I feel.

keithwatkinshistorian said...

I appreciate your reminder of God' character and the suggestion that our response as Christians should be restrained. Although I will not be leading worship or preaching Sunday, I have begun to think about what one might say to God (in the prayers) and to the people (in the sermon). This is an event that tests the theme of the current, controversial book that love wins.

Bryce said...

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." -Martin Luther King Jr.