Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

“Amish Grace”

“Love your enemies,” Jesus said. But what does “love” mean in face of senseless violence? That’s the question pressed by the film “Amish Grace” aired last night on Lifetime Movie Network.

The feature is based on the events of the morning of October 2, 2006, when Charles Carl Roberts walked into a one-room schoolhouse in the Old Order Amish community of Nickel Mines, a village in Bart Township of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, took hostages and then shot and killed five girls, aged 6-13. Roberts then committed suicide.

The horror itself shocked the entire nation; but in many ways the response of the Amish community shocked us even more. The family and friends of the slain children chose to forgive Charles Roberts…  We’re used to violence; we are not used to forgiveness. Is this what Jesus meant when he commanded us to “love” our enemies.

The Amish are a Christian sect who seek to lead quiet and separated lives. They have consciously removed themselves from the tumult of modern life, and choose, simplicity, faith, hard work, community living, and family. Their homes have no electricity and they do not drive cars. They are also pacifist, interpreting Jesus’ message that we should “love our enemies” to mean that we should never forcefully resist evil and that we must extend grace in face of even the worst offenses. Thus, their former forgiveness of Charles Roberts for the senseless murder of their children was a faithful expression of their form of Christian discipleship.

here’s a question: Yes, as Christians we are to love our enemies. But what does love look like? The film explores the dynamics of pain, grief, forgiveness and faith from an Amish perspective. But are their other faithful forms of Christian faith? Can it also be loving to use force to stop evil? Is it ever loving, as a last resort to even take the life of a violent person in order to stop their acts of violence? These are ancient and troubling questions. We need divine wisdom to respond…

“God, we pray for those who suffer injustice and those who suffer senseless violence. We pray that your justice will reign. We also pray for the gift of grace and mercy in these situations. And we pray that victims will find the wisdom they need in every situation to express the two sides of your character – both love and justice. In Jesus…”  

  • Your Name

    I believe that to find tht kind of grace is to find the peace Jesus wanted his brother and sisters to have.
    I pray that I never need to know that kind of grace for I’m not sure I could find it. How ever I sure that healty life after such tragity would depend on it.
    I believe that the Amish people truly saw Jesus’s heart. I ask for my heart to be remembered in prayer so that I too may have the currage to forgive even the smallest of tresspasses. This is idealic Grace
    and I pray for it every day.
    God forgives us through Jesus, So there for we must forgive.

  • isaida

    I watched the movie last night and being the mom of a murdered son, it was hard to watch. My son Samuel was shot and killed May 23, 2009 at the age of 19. I am a Christian, and know about forgiveness, but find it hard right now. I wondered during the movie if Mr. Roberts hadn’t killed himself would it have been so easy to forgive. If they had to see him face to face and endure a trial. The men accused of killing my son are in jail awaiting trial. I have yet to see them face to face and not sure how I will feel. I know Jesus asks us to forgive and I pray that he can get me to that point.

  • dwoods

    .–“The spirit of hatred and revenge originated with Satan, and it led him to put to death the Son of God. Whoever cherishes malice or unkindness is cherishing the same spirit, and its fruit will be unto death. In the revengeful thought the evil deed lies enfolded, as the plant in the seed. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15).–MB 56 (1896).
    “All acts of injustice that tend to shorten life–the spirit of hatred and revenge, or the indulgence of any passion that leads to injurious acts toward others or causes us even to wish them harm (for “whoso hateth his brother is a murderer”)– … are, to a greater or less degree, violations of the sixth commandment.–PP 308 (1890).

  • Your Name

    When I first heard this movie was going to air a few weeks ago, I set my DVR b/c I really wanted to see it. Of course I had to go to bed but watched the first 30 minutes or so of it. The little I saw brought back the shock and sorrow that you felt for those families and even today it’s still hard to comprehend just why Roberts did this. The movie depicted that at least one mother struggled with forgiving Roberts, I wonder if this is true, or Hollywood’s interpretation. I could only imagine the internal struggle that I would have to forgive in the face of such evil, when it’s your child’s life that has been taken away. God bless that community and I hope that the families are doing well and receiving the love and support that I’m sure everyone has extended to them during that painful time.

  • dwoods

    The Heart That Gives Love for Hatred.–It is not earthly rank, nor birth, nor nationality, nor religious 530 privilege, which proves that we are members of the family of God; it is love, a love that embraces all humanity. Even sinners whose hearts are not utterly closed to God’s Spirit will respond to kindness; while they may give hate for hate, they will also give love for love. But it is only the Spirit of God that gives love for hatred. To be kind to the unthankful and to the evil, to do good hoping for nothing again, is the insignia of the royalty of heaven, the sure token by which the children of the Highest reveal their high estate.–MB 75 (1896).

  • Ashley E.

    e I watched this movie last night, and was incredibly inspired by it.
    I do not believe I have had my belief system “shaken to it’s very roots” in quite a long time.
    You see, I never KNEW about why we are supposed to give unconditional forgiveness, and if someone told me, I was not listening.
    I was raised as a Catholic, and we are taught much the same way but it was almost a “blind forgiveness” we were expected to have, instead of one that is constantly taught, and explained, and preached.I love my faith despite all of the horrible things that have come to light in the Catholic Fsith, at least these sins against children over the years HAVE come to the light, and can no longer be perpetuated as the Devil so fervently wishes.
    I Thank God that He directed me to that movie on a night when I was praying for more faith, forgiveness, and asking God to make me a more humble servant.
    God Bless those little gils, and all their fammilies, as well as the gunman’s family and children.
    God Bless,
    Ashley and Peter Curran

  • Alan
  • sherry

    this was advertised and I could hardly wait to see it but it did not show on our cable, what is the deal, who can I ask about this?

  • dwoods

    The movie premiered on sunday on the Lifetime movie network. I am sure you can go to the website and possibly see it. I am sure they will re-run it.
    the movie was based on the true story about the school house shootings and the power of the Amish forgiveness. It was very inspiring. Hope you get a chance to see it.

  • Steve Real

    The Strength Of Love
    Then said Jesus,
    “Father, forgive them
    for they know not what they do”
    -Luke 23:34
    If we are to call ourselves Christians
    we have better avoid
    intellectual and moral blindness
    throughout this world.
    And even if we die here
    without having to receive the earthly promise,
    he shall lead us down that mysterious road called death
    and at last to that indescribable city
    where he has prepared the way for us.
    His creative power is not exhausted by earthly life,
    nor is his majestic love locked within
    these limited walls of time and space.
    Would this not be a strangely irrational universe
    if death were a blind alley
    leading the human race into nothingness?
    God through Christ has taken the sting from death
    by freeing us from its dominion.
    Our earthly life is a prelude
    to a glorious new awakening,
    and death is an open door
    that leads us into eternal life.
    The Christian faith makes it possible for us
    to nobly except that which cannot be changed,
    to meet disappoint and sorrow with an inner poise,
    and to absorb the most intense pain
    without abandoning our sense of hope,
    for we know, as Paul testified
    “In life or in death,
    in Spain or in Rome,
    that all things work together for good
    to them that love God
    to them who are the called…”
    – Love in Action
    Martin Luther King Jr. 1963

  • Lucien Boswell

    Hah I’m literally the first reply to your incredible writing!?

  • Leo prado

    Matthew 6:14 for if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you. not easy, but everything is possible if we have faith.
    GOD is knowledge, and LOVE.
    Leo prado

  • Pandora Necklaces

    You had some nice points here. I done a research on the topic and got most peoples will agree with you

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