Monday, October 09, 2006


1 Petrus 2:9 (Luther Bibel 1545)
Ihr aber seid das auserwählte Geschlecht, das königliche Priestertum, das heilige Volk, das Volk des Eigentums, daß ihr verkündigen sollt die Tugenden des, der euch berufen hat von der Finsternis zu seinem wunderbaren Licht;

Paradise, PA - I am a Pennsylvania boy. I have always assumed that most people think of PA as one continuous steel mill running from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia - the landscape dotted with smokestacks, breweries and stop lights and all of it covered in soot. If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Keystone State you will understand this assessment to be terribly wrong.

One of the lovelier sections of the state is Lancaster County. We called it Amish Country. Tracts and tracts of rich, fertile earth planted meticulously with corn, wheat and soy beans by humble and dedicated hands; beautifully simple homes constructed of local stone and timber; picturesque barns painted red and green often bearing intricate, decorative designs; elegant covered bridges astride pristine, trout-filled streams; populated by ‘plain’ folks who have ‘shunned’ worldliness and focused their hearts and energies on serving God and one another.

Last week, into this serenity, into Paradise itself, slithered a dark spirit. Cold, ruthless and intent on revenge. What transpired inside a small schoolhouse was a savage attack on innocence. The raw cruelty of this event reverberates throughout our country - throughout our world. It was no more or no less brutal than any of the other recent attacks on our most innocent. Then again, this was Paradise.

Certainly my geographical connection with this peaceful place - 30 miles from my childhood home - has drawn me deeply into this sad drama. But I think it’s much more. From these ‘plain’ folk I am learning eternal lessons about forgiveness, mercy and the unfathomable Grace of God. The dignified response of this community - accosted by trucks, cameras, helicopters, wires, microphones, lights and aggressive news reporters in the midst of their grief - emanates from a faith so fortified as to be miraculous. No Crystal Cathedral here; no praise choir; no WWJD bracelets; no well-groomed preacher asking for a donation in exchange for a prayer cloth. We are witnessing the Gospel of Christ pure and undefiled.

As I awoke this morning the national news was airing film of several gentlemen with picks and shovels preparing burial plots in a simple, stately cemetery. On the ground were a few small pine coffins. There was also the news that the families of the children who were lost in this tragedy had visited the family of the murderer. They had gone to comfort them.

1 Peter 2:9 (King James Version)
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;

Bruder Schuyler