United Reformed Church LogoAt the time I am writing this article the death toll has passed 320 across Sri Lanka (over 500 injured, and the fatalities are likely to rise) as a sad result of the terrorist attack on Easter Day. As we heard from the news it was an evil masterminded murderous operation targeting Christian churches and tourists in hotels. Horrible attack on humanity!

ISIS claimed responsibility, but the credibility of that claim has not been confirmed yet. There are various theories out there, why it happened (as a sort of response to the other terrorist attack in Christ Church not so long ago), but at the moment we just don’t know. Even if it were confirmed that one terrorist attack happened in the name of one religion as a response to another deadly incident committed in the name of another religion we still could not or should not generalise and blame any faith. Fuelling hatred, discrimination, prejudice towards people because of their religion and culture is wrong, let alone attacking them because of their beliefs!

Yet we need to speak about the fact that Christians are now suffering for their faith in more countries than ever before, abduction, subjection to violence and face death for their faith. We must do all we can to defend and aid those who are victims. We stand by them in prayer and give donations to them so that they can continue practising their faith.

All around the world Christians are subjected to real and sustained violence for the profession of their faith, the one that we proclaim most insistently today. That life is stronger than death. That love will ultimately triumph over hate. And this means that we believe terrorism can never quench the proclamation of the good news of Easter. In a sense, we should not be surprised as Jesus warned us when he talked about the signs of the end times, “there will be a time of special persecution; everyone will hate you because you are mine and are called by my name”, but also encouraged us, “For if you stand firm, you will win your souls” (Lk 21:17-19). “At Easter, darkness and death cannot have the last word. That is why people were going to church in Sri Lanka in the first place, to listen again to this message: Christ is risen. Allelujah. He is risen indeed!

with Christian love, Revd John Gray