Sermons 2007
Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Easter 3C 2007 Virginia Tech

“And I looked, and beheld a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, … and with death, and …. I saw … the souls of them that were slain….And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord…?” (from Rev 6:8-10)

How long, O Lord, how long?

The morning started like any other Monday morning. I was up early, sitting at my computer, thinking about today, wondering what I would say about resurrection appearances that hadn’t been said before. I looked at old corny stories about fishing, fishermen, and the wives of fishermen, and wasn’t satisfied. I thought of Peter putting on his clothes and then jumping into the water. How typical of old Saint Peter, I thought and smiled. But I didn’t plan to make much of that; some how the stories and such seemed too trite. Not a fish fry theme.

Was it a premonition? I’m not sure.

Suddenly the breaking news bulletins began to start coming across my computer screen. Dry, impersonal, they seemed at first to treat it as an isolated and almost every day event, that first shooting at Virginia Tech just past 7 am that morning. With growing horror I watched as the death toll rose: one, then three, then eighteen, twenty, twenty two. The last minute scramble to pick up completed tax returns and then the even greater scramble to pay them distracted me only a little from the deepening, widening tragedy in Blacksburg.

By early afternoon the death toll was thirty, then thirty one, thirty two, and finally thirty three. The broadcast media began to transmit sound and pictures from student cell phones to fill out their own coverage. My mind couldn’t keep up with it; I couldn’t begin to wrap my mind around it all. By early afternoon the talking heads and armchair quarterbacks had begun to criticize and complain about both the deployed law enforcement agencies and the University Administration. As if anyone can stop a suicide attack before it begins.

By late afternoon the media circus was in a feeding frenzy, voracious in its devouring and displaying and dissecting and analyzing even the most minute and insignificant statement and event. Even sedate old National Public Radio was into the act by late afternoon. And copycats have already emerged this week around the country.

Somehow lost was any serious consideration in the media of the nature of the tragedy and its spreading ripples of permanent trauma and sorrow among, especially, the families of those who had died, their friends, and those who lived at the University on that terrible morning. And their need for privacy.

How long, O Lord, how long?

Governor Kaine flew back from Japan as soon as possible and was present at the university memorial service on Tuesday. He was the first one who seemed to be aware of what was really going on inside the media circus that had been happening. He spoke of the pride he had in the students and staff and faculty of Virginia Tech. He spoke of their dignity and courage in the face of overwhelming tragedy. He lauded their spirit, the spirit that had sustained Tech over the years, a spirit that had its grounding in the Tech sense of community: students, faculty, staff, alumni.

He spoke of how they were and would be the true heroes now and in the days to come, this Virginia Tech Community. He spoke of the importance of being in the Commonwealth of Virginia, not just a state but something else entirely, where we all stood together in the face of such things as this killing rampage. He spoke of how this was what stood out the most as he and his wife journeyed back from Japan and watched television news as they waited connections in various airports.

He and President Bush, also there, spoke eloquently of the faith that sustains, even in the face of unspeakable horror and tragedy. The governor referred to the story of Job. And of Job’s perseverance in the face of calamity after calamity, loss of family and everything he had. I was reminded of one of the opening anthems in our burial office:

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.
After my awaking, he will raise me up;
and in my body I shall see God.
I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him
who is my friend and not a stranger.

How long, O Lord, how long?

We do not know exactly how different the world will be because those thirty-two innocents were slain. I looked at all their faces on the InterNet and wept. But I know that our everlasting loss will be what they could have accomplished.

How long, O Lord, how long? And where were you when they needed you in the midst of this chaos and evil, death riding rampant on the pale horse. I have no satisfying answers. I certainly cannot see God’s hand in this. But I do know and believe that wherever God was it was like the day his own Son was slain.

We are this week and for a long time to come all part of the great Virginia Tech community. Regardless of whether we are from UVA, William and Mary, VMI, VCU, JMU, George Mason, West Point, Annapolis, or any other university or none at all, we are this week all Hokies. We will never forget what happened there in Blacksburg, we will never forget their courage, and we will never forget how proud we are of them even as we sorrow with them and weep over them.