The bombing of the finish line at the Boston Marathon broke all our hearts. Very soon we will be seeing the funerals and interviews of the victims who have been injured. Funerals take place in churches and many of the persons interviewed will be speaking from a faith perspective. Thus we are reminded what congregations and religious leaders do at such times. Congregations, synagogues, and temples are places where people turn to pick up the pieces of their lives broken by violence. It’s where the funerals are held and our grief work is conducted. These are important and needed roles that houses of worship have played for centuries.

But there is another role. There is a front line role that congregations must play if the killing and violence is to stop. Central to our mission at Christ Church is to help people everywhere overcome their anger, hatred, and rage. As we worship, meet, share meals, teach children, and perform all the other activities we host as a church, we work to counter these deep resentments, angers, fears and hostilities. We will never know what difference this makes, but we are committed to being on the front line. We cannot be bystanders in the battle against violence.

Why do people persist in trying to solve problems with violence? Parker Palmer, the theologian, says we resort to violence when we don’t know what to do with our anger and suffering. Suffering can be life-giving if our hearts are open because we then have the capacity to empathize with others’ suffering. This connects the human family. Why others strike out against their brothers and sisters remains in the frontier of faith to amend and reverse.