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"In July 2014, Raphael Hameed was walking with his 5-year-old son, Ish, when they were hit by a speeding car. Raphael lost his leg. Ish, his only son, was killed."1 Their story is one of love – a story of love beyond imagination, of love that, sometimes, can only come after death.
See, after the accident, the driver's sister, Megiddëh, began to connect with Raphael and his wife Heidi. She would visit them at the hospital, trying to help out where she could. It could've been different – she could've stayed away, ashamed, afraid. Raphael and Heidi could've denied her entry. They were, after all, deeply grieving and I imagine, still in that awful mix of anger and sorrow and sleeplessness. But instead, the door was opened, a friendship formed.
In all four Gospels, the response to the resurrection is fear. For some ridiculous reason, I hadn't realized that until this year. Now, 2000 years later, we have some sense that this is very good news, and we sing. Look at today's music: "Be not afraid, sing out for joy, Christ is risen, Alleluia! This joyful Eastertide," the anthem begins, "away with sin and sorrow!"
But in all four Gospels, the response is fear. I don't usually do this, but get your Bibles out and flip with me. We'll start at the beginning of the New Testament with Matthew, Matthew 28. Mary and Mary head to the tomb and are met with an earthquake – this is the most dramatic resurrection appearance – an angel moves the stone as the ground trembles. The women leave with tomb with fear and great joy, this amazing mixture. Jesus appears later and leads with, "Do not be afraid," which means he knows they are.
Early Tuesday, while it was still dark, three men pushed luggage into the Brussels Zaventum Airport. The bags didn't hold extra shirts and a toothbrush, but explosives, triggered near the departure gates, collapsing ceiling panels, shattering glass. An hour later, the Maelbeek Metro Station. Before the sun rose here, 31 people dead, 270 wounded, the world again in terror.
Early in the morning, while it was still dark, a man in the woods near Kroger and 15/501 rubs the sleep from his eyes. He is one of the 34 people in Durham, according to this year's Point in Time Count, that are unsheltered. That's the lowest number since 2005, but that's still 34 daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, who wake up on the ground, or under a bridge.
Early, while it is still dark, she rolls out of bed. He's sleeping. He has fallen again, this is the fourth time, the disease is progressing. Everyone is trying so hard to support him, her. She is going to keep him at home no matter what, but for the first time she wonders if she can do it alone...
The summer of 2004, I was a small group leader at Montreat Youth Conferences. It seemed the right time to follow through on a long-percolating plan: I would get a tattoo. I was the ripe, wise age of 22, and upon getting said tattoo on the inside of my left wrist, I called my parents to share the news: "Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. Sooo - I got a tattoo. But don't worry! It is in white so you can't really see it AND it says "shalom" - you know, like peace in Hebrew. Peace like of peace of Jesus Christ so you can't really get mad at me, right?" They didn't get mad and instead, giggled a bit because really, what can you say to that?
Flannery O'Conner's amazing short story, "Revelation," begins with the main character, Rudy Turpin, walking into a crowded doctor's waiting room. She's there with her husband Claud, who has been kicked by a cow on their farm and has an abscess on his leg. She notices a blond six year old boy whose shirt was dirty and was too rude to move for her, wonders why his mother hadn't wiped his nose. She shoves Claud towards a vacant chair. It doesn't take long to figure out what she's doing, going around the room, sizing up every person there: Mary Grace, the overweight girl of eighteen or nineteen, the acne on her face, scowling into a thick blue book. The young mother and her daughter who she is sure are "white trashy," an older woman, another younger woman, not "white trashy, but common," Rudy decides.