Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, issued the statement that follows on April 17, the day after the shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University that claimed 33 lives.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
As we learn more details of the horrific shootings on April 16th at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, we offer our deepest sympathies to and sincere prayers for the families and friends of the victims, as well as to the faculty, staff, and students at the university.
Our church body, through the offices of our Southeastern District, our participation in Lutheran Disaster Response, and other means, will do everything it can to minister to those in the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg, Va., communities. [Free online resources are available from Concordia Publishing House at www.cph.org/resources/vt.asp.]
I understand that in our own university system, a number of our Concordia colleges and universities will be holding vigils and special chapel services today. In your own prayers and meditations, you might consider following the lead of Concordia College, Bronxville, N.Y., by centering your thoughts on the laments of Psalm 10 and the stanzas of Lutheran Service Book [hymn] No. 764, “When Aimless Violence Takes Those We Love.”
Undoubtedly, many questions will continue to surround the events of this awful day. What could have caused such an outrageous action? Why did so many have to die? How could such a tragedy have been prevented? Some may even question, “Where was God?” The circumstances for such questions remind us of the broken and fallen world in which we live, where evil still has its day as the “devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
While one may never be able to explain fully to satisfaction the many queries of this incident, one can find the answer for hope in such times in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Easter message of His resurrection reminds us that He has destroyed the power of sin, death, and the devil. From the hollowness of an empty tomb comes the message of comfort and healing that alone can fill the emptiness of lives left vacant by the sadness and sorrow in the tragic death of fellow students and family members and friends. In the most tragic of circumstances we have hope, for God is there “reconciling the world unto himself in Christ.”
Even though we cannot in this life fully understand the mysteries of God, we can be sure of His love for us. Amid the dangers of our sinful world and fragile, fleeting lives, we turn to Christ as our eternal comfort and hope. We find solace in St. Paul’s words to the Romans: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick
Posted April 17, 2007