NOTE: THIS IS AN OLD POST. I WROTE IT IN MARCH, SHORTLY AFTER THE EVENTS TOOK PLACE. I AM NO LONGER INTERESTED IN YOUR COMMENTS ON MY WAY OF THINKING, MY THEOLOGY OR MY BLOG. THE COMMENTS ARE CLOSED AND ABUSIVE E-MAILS WILL BE DELETED WITH NO HESITATION.
I’ve had the Winkler family on my mind quite a lot the past few days. Matthew Winkler was a Church of Christ minister, and on Wednesday, his wife, Mary, shot and killed him. Over the next weeks and months, there story will no doubt be told on cable news and in magazines and newspapers, told and told and told again until we all know it and then get to watch it all over again in a TV movie on Lifetime.
What sticks with me particularly are the comments of neighbors and church members, who all seem to say they can’t believe such a thing could happen to a family who “looked” so perfect. The tall husband, the pretty wife, the bright and lovely daughters have all been on our TV screens repeatedly in their Christmas card poses. No matter how perfect they looked, something was terribly wrong. Whatever the reason, Mary Winkler must have been hurting.
A conservative pastor blogged that clearly Mary Winkler hadn’t been listening to her husband’s sermons, or she would have known that one of the commandments says, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” I think he has missed the point entirely. She surely knew that. What she didn’t seem to understand was God’s forgiveness. Maybe she did something wrong and didn’t want her husband to discover it. Maybe *he* had done something wrong and she didn’t expect to be believed. It almost doesn’t matter what that thing was. We’ll hear about it soon enough. What does matter is that the terribly wrong thing was hidden. It was hidden until it couldn’t be hidden anymore, and then Mary Winkler ran away with her daughters.
The portrayal of God in a lot of stories from the Old Testament is disturbingly human. God gets mad, no doubt rightly, about the faithlessness of the people. This week in church we read the story from Numbers in which God sends poisonous snakes to bite the Israelites as punishment for their lack of faith. After all, God saw to it they got out of slavery in Egypt, and even provided manna in the wilderness when they feared going hungry. Why wouldn’t they just trust?!?
It seems to me that Mary Winkler learned well the lessons about that harsh God portrayed in the stories of long, long ago. What she missed was the message of Christ.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17, NRSV)
God has come a long way from sending snakes to bite the faithless. God sends God’s self, known to us in Jesus, to teach us how much we are loved and to show us that God understands our hurts and our weaknesses. It’s hard to imagine being more exposed or vulnerable than a person would be on the cross.
But the cross was not the end of the story. The cross was a hinge, allowing a door to open. And that open door is the way to healing of our hearts and souls. We must look at the cross to really find our way through to the Resurrection. Through death came new life.
My prayer for Mary Winkler is that she will finally tell someone what the trouble was. She can’t go back and undo what she has done. The law will no doubt lock her up for the rest of her life. Her children will suffer hurt most of us cannot even imagine. But God is not finished with her. There is still a place to turn.
Jesus is a wounded savior. It is safe to bring our hurting hearts and souls to him. He knows all about it. Jesus experienced hurt for the sake of healing us. If we can believe in God’s care for us, as seen in Jesus, we will walk through the open door and the healing will begin. And it is in that healing that we are truly saved.