Patriots’ Day is a widely-observed Massachusetts holiday that celebrates the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord (the first battles of the American Revolutionary War) on April 19, 1775. It is observed on the third Monday in April. The Boston Marathon, one of the best-known races in the world and the oldest annual marathon in the world, takes place on Patriots’ Day.
This past Monday, during the 117th Boston Marathon, two bombs were detonated by terrorists near the finish line, leading to 3 deaths and over 180 injuries. The home games of the Red Sox, Celtics, and the Bruins, all part of the Patriots’ Day festivities, were cancelled. Hanna and I were not in the city at the time, but we had over a dozen friends running the Boston Marathon (thankfully, all of them are safe).
This tragedy inspired many people to heroic acts. The police, firefighters, and EMT’s of Boston saved many through their prompt response. Some of the marathoners ran straight past the finish line toward Massachusetts General hospital to donate blood for the victims of the bombings. Many ordinary citizens were seen assisting the injured, and many more opened up their homes and offered rides to those who were stranded in Boston due to the incident.
City of God & City of Man
As Christians in the Greater Boston area, how should we relate to and care for our city? Is it appropriate for Christians to be patriotic?
It is true that we belong to the City of God and not to the City of Man. We are exiles here on earth (Jas. 1:1; 1 Pt. 2:11). We lead lives that are, in many ways, countercultural. Our primary allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, not to the Kingdom of Man.
Nevertheless, we do not, as some extreme fundamentalists are wont to do, separate ourselves and label this tragedy as a just punishment for the moral decay of the city. Instead, as the Jewish exiles in Babylon were commanded, we are to “seek the welfare of the city where [God has] sent [us] into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare [we] will find [our] welfare” (Jer. 29:4-7).
We do not belong to this world, yet we have been sent into this world (Jn. 17:15-18). Serving our city is not only the loving, and therefore the right, thing to do; it’s also the strategic thing to do because it bolsters the credibility of our gospel witness in the city. In Boston’s welfare, we will find our welfare.
The short answer, then, is this: We should be the very best citizens of the city of Boston and do everything in our power to ensure the healing and flourishing of our city.
In addition to praying for our city, here’s a list of things that you can do to help.