Holding Those Who Bring Messages of Anger

This blog post was written in response to Pastor Amy’s sermon this past Sunday, “A Place for Rage.”

Amy’s sermon yesterday triggered some powerful memories for me, and a concern for our community.

During the contra war in Nicaragua in the 1980’s a friend of ours worked with Witness for Peace in communities in the countryside that were in constant fear of attack from contra bands infiltrating from Honduras. Jenny’s job was to help those communities to collect, honor and bury the remains of nurses, water engineers, delegates of the word and other civilian members of the community tortured, mutilated and killed in the attacks (some of them close friends of hers) and to document the results of those attacks with photographs and transcribed testimonies from the survivors.

I remember one evening when she confronted our PA Senator John Heinz, who adamantly argued for US support for the contras. Spreading out the photos of her dead friends on a table in front of him at a public meeting, Jenny said, “If the contra are an instrument of US policy in Central America, they are a terrorizing, bloody instrument.”

After the heated public session, a high school friend of Jenny’s, approached her and said, “Jenny, I didn’t know about any of this. I don’t read the paper because it will just make me angry.” Jenny took her friend by the shoulders and said, “You should be angry!” I have never forgotten the anguished rage and frustration of Jenny’s words. Nor have I forgotten that Jenny struggled for years to understand the spiritual and emotional price that she had paid for being a faithful witness.

The kind of accompaniment that Amy and John have done with Christian Peacemakers… and that my friend Jenny did with Witness for Peace… that accompaniment is not glamorous. It is not feel good “work project” travel to a foreign land. It is soul searing work among hurt and dying people where you have no solutions to their deadly dilemma. We need to thank these folks who bring us these messages we do not want to receive; but more than that we need to care for them when they come back. In what ever ways each of us can, we need to remember that those who are our messengers carry the stories of the people they have met deep in their souls, and that weight isn’t left behind as unclaimed baggage when they return.

– Ron Morgan

Though Germantown considers itself a single community, we are all individuals with our own backgrounds, and therefore any opinions expressed in this blog should be read as the opinions of the author, and not the official position of GMC. We encourage positive discourse, so all comments will be moderated before posting.