by Chris Granger, New Orleans Times-Picayune Newspaper, 1/25/17.
It’s understandable that people who’ve just had a loved one snatched away from them want to be comforted, want to believe that everything happens for a reason. It’s understandable that they don’t want to believe that awful things just happen. There’s a desire that we all have to squeeze some sort of meaning even out of the worst things that have happened to us. Talk of angels coming down to retrieve or loved ones can give somebody peace that all hope is not lost.
But we don’t need to make peace with these murders. We don’t need to reach the place where we can find some comfort in what’s been happening here. We need to refuse to be comforted. And understand that our refusal to accept these murders as normal and part of some divine plan has biblical support.
In 2009, the Rev. John Raphael gave the eulogy for 2-year-old Ja’Shaun Powell whose father slashed his throat to avoid paying child support. Raphael, who had witnessed a jazz funeral for the toddler the night before, told the people crowded inside New Hope Baptist Church, “I thought we started dancing a little too soon.”
Raphael, the preacher who put up “Thou Shalt Not Kill” signs around his Central City church is gone now, but the message from his eulogy is unfortunately evergreen. The book of Jeremiah describes Rachel, mother of two of Jacob’s sons, crying at the deaths of the children of Israel. Rachel refused to be comforted. For the most part, Raphael said, we refuse to be troubled. We refuse to even experience sorrow. We dance at second lines. We speak of angels swooping up our loved ones.
Let us mourn. Let us be angry. Let us be honest when we see evil and not attempt to make peace with its presence.