Easter in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka: An update and a reflection

Our friends, colleagues, and congregation members are all safe but share the common grief that has gripped the nation.  

In Batticaloa, the attack on the Zion church is devastating, especially to those who have lost loved ones or will now have to care for them. I can hardly bear to reflect that for many of them it may add to losses they have already suffered in the war and/or tsunami.

There is much that we do not know about the attacks. But obviously, in addition to the actual infliction of loss, the attackers seem determined to also provoke reactions that will further undermine civic trust. Already some Muslim fishing boats, at Kallady, near Batticaloa have been burnt due to speculation as to whom the attackers might be.

I also want to share a reflection on the day. It is striking that on the day Christians gather to celebrate, affirm their faith that Life and Love have power over death, those who, in contrast, affirm that death and the fear of death can be used to drive human societies and life chose to demonstrate their conviction. It is now up to us, of any religious or secular affirmation who know and more so trust that life and love have broken the power of death to show how to live faithfully during this time. Initially, this is going to mean supporting and caring for those who have lost loved ones or nursing the wounded.

But then it will be our responsibility to labor for the longer task of building a society founded on justice, forgiveness and true reconciliation and build a society in which all citizens are valued, respected, and given equal dignity. That work as ever will not be easy and may never be fully realized. But that is what our affirmation of the power of Life and Love over death is going to demand of us and to particularly ensure that we do not add to the flames of vilification and resentment of other communities. In this, your solidarity and support are going to be important.

Lastly, some of you have asked how you can help or support people there. As soon as I hear from colleagues on the ground, I will let you know.  

Darshan Ambalavanar
Director, Diaconal Ministries
Church of the American Ceylon Mission (CACM), Batticaloa


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