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Christian forgiveness and the Boston Marathon bombing

Faith & Leadership offers resources for pastors and laypeople seeking to explore the question of forgiveness.

Duke Photography/Les Todd
"Reconciliation -- Luke 15" is a bronze sculpture by Margaret Adams Parker displayed on the terrace of Duke Divinity School.

April 20, 2013

In the wake of the recent terrible events in Boston, Christians across the world are asking themselves: How can we live out Christ’s call to forgive as we have been forgiven?

We have gathered here some previously published content from Faith & Leadership that may help pastors and laypeople as they contemplate this question, which is so pressing as the story of the Boston Marathon bombing unfolds.

This material includes a theologian contemplating the Amish school shooting, sermons about grappling with despair, first-person narratives from survivors of genocide, the reflections of a chaplain in Afghanistan and more.

Reflections

Leadership as loving enemies
The ministry of reconciliation is fundamental to what makes Christian leadership Christian, says L. Gregory Jones.

The dance of forgiveness
Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel, but learning how to embody it is not easy. In their new book, "Forgiving As We've Been Forgiven," L. Gregory Jones and Célestin Musekura provide a guide for the practice of forgiveness.

L. Gregory Jones: Reconciling leadership from Nickel Mines
Five years after five children were killed and more wounded in a schoolhouse shooting, an Amish community shows how the tradition of forgiveness can enable a new future.

Jean Vanier: What's Christian about Christian leadership?
Forgiveness and love of enemies are at the heart of leadership, says L’Arche founder Jean Vanier.

Mel Baars: War and the dimensions of love
An Army chaplain in Afghanistan discovers that it’s easier to talk about love of enemies from a distance than up close. Fortunately, God promises to stand in the void and finish all that we have not been able to do.

Sermons

Learning to believe
For many of us, there is a huge gap between the Easter proclamation of joy and the felt reality of guilt, chaos and hopelessness. But practicing the forgiveness of sins is practicing resurrection; that is how we may come to believe that in the crucified and risen Lord, everything has changed, says Ellen F. Davis.

Emmanuel Katongole: Receiving such a one as this
By embracing the poor and weak in international ministry, we also learn to embrace those communities here in the U.S. -- and the vulnerable core of who we are as children of God -- says the Catholic priest and expert on global Christianity and reconciliation.

Global perspectives

Love made me an inventor
Maggy Barankitse survived Burundi's brutal civil war and founded Maison Shalom, an institution dedicated to saving the country's orphans and raising them in God's love.

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela: Forgiveness is possible
Even after the worst atrocities, forgiveness is possible, says a South African psychologist and researcher. At its core lies empathy, the turning point where people encounter and recognize each other as human beings.

As we forgive
After her daughter was kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, Angelina Atyam realized that her mission was not just to secure the child’s release, but to forgive her captors and work for peace and reconciliation.