The Alleluia that Defeats the Chill of Evil – UPDATE

A friend of mine sent me this piece from the WSJ on the “rapid descent” of the Aurora shooter, pointing to one paragraph, in particular:

On June 25, the Lead Valley Range received Mr. Holmes’ online application with answers to basic questions about age, gun ownership and drug use; all seemed normal, said range owner Glenn Rotkovich.

Mr. Rotkovich called Mr. Holmes to set up an orientation time, and heard an “incoherent, bizarre” voice-mail message, which he described as “very guttural.” “There was all kinds of low groaning in the middle,” Mr. Rotkovich said. He called twice more and left three messages. The range never heard from Mr. Holmes.

You know where my friend’s head went, with that, right? Exactly the same place yours just went, and mine went, when I read it. Chilling but then, we have always understood that what took place last Friday was a rampage of evil.

But something else took place last Friday; beer and hymns among the Lutherans, led by Preacher Nadia Bolz-Weber. And it was full of truth and victory:

I thought for a moment of cancelling Beer & Hymns on Friday night . . . Thankfully that thought only lasted a moment. Then I posted on Facebook that that night we would still gather to sing praises to God, for, as the funeral mass says even as we go to the grave still we make our song alleluia.

And then after Beer & Hymns we sat in a noisy Denver bar and sang Vespers together, we sang our prayer to God, and in our singing I heard a defiant tone. The sound of a people who simply will not believe that violence wins, a people who know that the sound of the risen Christ speaking each of our names drowns out all other voices.

It drowns out the sound of the political posturing, the sound of cries for vengeance, the sound of our own fears and anxieties and the deafening uncertainty – because all of it is no match for the shimmering sound of the resurrected Christ calling our name. Because in baptism we are a people marked by the cross of Christ. Upon our foreheads is the mark of violence and death but this violence and death has been overcome by the love of a God who in the 3 days between Good Friday and Easter reached into the very bowels of hell and said even here I will not be without you. This is the God to whom we sing. A God who didn’t say we would never be afraid but that we would never be alone. A God who shows up. In the violence of the cross, in the darkness of a garden before dawn, in the gardener, in a movie theater, in the basement of a bar.

In 2010, on that first evening after the earthquake in Haiti, news reports came in that said that when night fell on the streets of Port AU Prince people were singing hymns and psalms. Blessed be God, they sang. People were singing praises to God amidst their entire world destroyed.

It’s important to note that to sing praises to God amongst destruction and violence is not the same thing as saying “Hey God we think you’re awesome for allowing these horrible things to happen.” To sing praise to God amidst destruction and violence is to simply put evil in it’s place. It’s to draw a line and say here and no further. For the devil surely hates the sound of alleluia.

That last graph is as good as anything ever written by Chesterton or Lewis. Read it all. You will be glad.

UPDATE: This is quite a story. I do not know why some people die and some live, but this, for me, seems like evidence of a plan.

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About Elizabeth Scalia