A Day for Grace and Imprecation

 

This morning we started our day with the hard news of the stabbings at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville. As I write the reports are that twenty people were injured. Several have life-threatening injuries. We can presume most are high-school students.

Because of the nearness of Franklin Regional to our own community, we will all undoubtedly know people who are directly affected by these events. We will all be talking about this with others. And we will all be wondering how to respond, how to answer the big questions about God's goodness and sovereignty, and how best to make God's love and grace known to those who are hurting.

I won't presume to answer all those big questions in this small space. But I will remind us that this is a day for grace and a day for imprecation.

It is a day for grace because sin has made its presence known in a powerful and undeniable way. In our response we need to be clear with ourselves and with others that God is gracious, that God is longsuffering and full of mercy, that God forgives sin, and that all of us are sinners in need of God's grace. We haven't taken a knife to the back of our schoolmates, but we have murdered in our hearts. We have hated and despised. It is on a day like today that we are reminded how especially powerful God's grace is in the lives of repentant sinners - even murderers.

But it is also a day for imprecation, because not all sinners repent. Not all murderers see their error. Not everyone who commits evil turns from their ways. While God's offer of grace extends to all, not all receive it. And because of this the imprecatory prayers of the Bible are not only permitted, but also wise on a day such as this. While we do indeed long for the salvation of all men, we also long for God's justice. We should still pray the Psalms in all their dread and glory:

 The LORD is in his holy temple;

     the LORD's throne is in heaven;

     his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

The LORD test the righteous,

     but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

Let him rain coals on the wicked;

     fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.

For the Lord is righteous;

he loves righteous deeds;

     the upright shall behold his face.

                                 Psalm 11:4-7

                 Today, pray for the victims of this crime. Pray for the students and staff who witnessed it. Pray for the families devastated by it. Pray for the school. Pray for the civil authorities. And pray for the churches of Murrysville, that they would faithfully share the full  measure of God's character and glory with hurting people.

God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He forgives sin. But he will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:6-7).

 Pastor Aaron