Dear Friends in Christ,

In these last few days, since the horrifying assaults in the streets of Paris, many of you have shared stories of your own personal connections to France. My own family's ties go back nearly a hundred years. My grandfather fought there with American forces during the First World War. My mother spent much of her youth in France, barely escaping from Paris in June of 1940. I attended a lycée there as a boy and taught in one as a young man. And in this diocese, we have a collective link to France through the ministry of +Pierre Whalon, formerly the rector of All Souls in North Versailles and now our Bishop in Europe, and whose own fine meditation on the aftermath may be found here.

Such personal ties may mean that some of us experience the horror in France in a more visceral way, however, as Christians we are called to mourn any violence that steals the lives of God's children and so defaces His Image. Whether it is the 129 precious human beings murdered in Paris, the 43 who died in a Beirut marketplace the day before, the 224 killed on a Russian jet two weeks earlier, or the many in other places and times, all are to be grieved with exactly the same sorrow. We remember the departed and pray for their friends and families.

One could be tempted to believe that, for the moment, the field belongs to the perpetrators. A few terrorists sow destruction and mayhem in the City of Light, and the world is captivated, focused once again on the magnitude of evil, wringing our hands over the power of darkness, running to and fro wondering what we are to do. And Satan laughs.

Have we forgotten that the only weapon such people have is death?

And what do we have? Nothing, really, but the Cross, the death that conquers death; the Cross and the empty tomb, the beginning of life that can never be taken away; and the Word made flesh who gives hope to the hopeless, whose light shines in the darkness, which the darkness can never overcome.

We have only the power of the risen Christ that removes the stumbling blocks of race and tribe and clan; only the spirit of God that renews the face of the earth; only the communion of saints; only the armies of peace equipped with the weapons of love; only the everlasting love of the Father that can change despair into hope, stark hatred into pure affection, dead ends into open highways, love that can dry every tear and empty every grave until the family of God from every nation stands as one before the throne of grace.

That's all we have. That is our response.

So let's get together, and pray together, and learn together, and serve together, and get the Good News out there.

I believe we can be about nothing more important.

Faithfully your bishop,

(The Rt. Rev.) Dorsey W.M. McConnell, D.D.

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