April 15

We normally associate April 15 with income tax deadlines. Last year that date took on a different meaning. At 2:49 pm, near the finish line for the Boston Marathon, two bombs exploded within 550 feet of each other on Boylston Street. Three people were killed; more than 260 people were injured by the blasts. In the devastation and confusion, many flee understandably frightened. Many others run, not away but toward the scene. Stories of compassion, bravery, and service begin to be shaped as the minutes become hours on that horrific day.

This weekend approximately 36,000 people will take part in the Boston Marathon, scheduled for Monday, April 21. Boston Strong has become Boston Stronger. At least one Wieucan, a young lady married here in our church who has run in numerous races and marathons, will be one of the participants. I wished her good luck Sunday and promised that I would pray for her. Join me.

While much of the world’s attention will be turned toward Boston, the marathon is not the big event of the weekend. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life.”

Those familiar words from John help to frame what happened two thousand years ago this weekend. Evil reared its ugly head then, too. Violent death suffered by the innocent took place. An excited crowd had gathered earlier in the week to watch a parade. On the darkest day in history, the cheering crowd had become a jeering mob. A young man hung broken and bleeding. His body would be enclosed in a borrowed tomb. Tears flowed, hearts were broken.

As I have heard and read the stories of those who are putting their lives back together after the Boston bombing, I am inspired by the courage and determination of those who refuse to allow this tragedy define their lives. I am encouraged by the many acts of ministry that took place that day and since.

As I reread and listen to the words of what took place 2000 years, I find strength, comfort, and assurance that sin and death falter in the face of love. The cloak of despair and darkness was ripped away to reveal the glory of the One who burst from the grave. Christ claimed victory from the jaws of defeat.

 

I will stand and applaud those who compete and those who finish their race on Monday, but on Sunday I will bow and worship the One who finished a race I could never win. He is risen!

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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