Thursday, June 23, 2011

Another sad-shocking-powerful expression of costly grace

From Eastern Mennonite University, 1200 Park Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
Chloe Weaver;
MWR file photo
A few months ago I theologized about a Mennonite family in Washington whose children were tragically killed in a car accident, and how the family's response was shocking to many, including the news journalist covering the story as it unfolded over years.

Last fall, 20 year-old, Chloe Weaver, met her tragic end while bicycling on a highway in Colorado, being struck from behind by a teenage boy driving a pickup truck who then fled the scene but was later identified and charged. Again, this Mennonite family's response is not typical by broadly American justice standards:

Weavers seek 'healing response' at sentencing - Sheldon C. Good, Mennonite Weekly Review

Chloe's father, Herm Weaver, makes it clear that sending to prison the boy who accidentally killed his daughter would not "move (him) forward in terms of trying to grow his person." Rather, the Weaver family expressed preferences to the district attorney on the case which would help the young man "take responsibility for (his) life and actions, honestly and humbly," with Herm telling the young man that "I want you to carry on, in some small way, the work Chloe do, to make it a better world.” Like the Schrocks before them, the Weavers stand with the accused while the state works out its justice process.

Also like before, notice how the news journalist covering this story personally reflects on the response from the Weavers, as Sheldon points out in his article:
Julia Wilson, who wrote the Valley Courier news story, also wrote an opinion piece June 15. Wilson acknowledged that if she had known someone killed in this way, she “would have wanted [the young driver] to suffer.” But the Weavers showed “unusual commodities” of “love, compassion, forgiveness and hope... Their religion is not just a Sunday habit,” Wilson wrote. “It is as much a part of their daily lives as breathing.” (emphasis mine)
This is exactly the depth to which all Christians (not just us crazy Anabaptists) are called to inhabit their faith: To the point where such responses to tragedies like this become as common as breathing. And how is it that the Anabaptist tradition seems particularly adept at cultivating such responses in families like the Schrocks and the Weavers? Because this tradition experiences and understands the Lord of All, Jesus of Nazareth, and embodies discipleship to him in Spirit-led, thick expressions of Christian community. As Herm points out, “We have been raised and nurtured by people who have instilled these responses, and we are so grateful for that..."

It is in these moments, witnessing amazing grace at work in broken human relations and loss of life, that the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer join in, sounding a clarion call to all Christians before a watching world:
Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God. (From Discipleship, emphasis mine)

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