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When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
John 20:19-21

Hiding is an inescapable part of the human condition, and it started early:

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden (Gen. 3:8).

In last Sunday's lectionary reading from the Gospels, we see a similar pattern. The disciples hide in a house behind locked doors, because they are afraid of the authorities who had just murdered their master.

After Monday's horrific massacre in Virginia, most of us will want to go and do likewise. We'll want to hide from God, from others, and from ourselves. The massacre disturbs us not because it's unusual but because it reminds us of the many slaughters inflicted on innocents everyday across the globe. It is a frightening icon of our vulnerability and mortality.

We are right to be afraid. The enlightened, scientific, rational ethos that pervades our culture hypnotizes us into believing that with every biomedical breakthrough and fresh psychological insight we are progressing as a species. That's a lie. Psychologists work mightily to shape relationships and convince us we really are "safe." But we're not safe. It's as simple as that. We're vulnerable. And we know it. And so we hide.

The man and woman hid themselves "among the trees ...

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Peace in a World of Massacre
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April 2007

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