The Church building is closed today due to weather. Please email us at if you need help with anything.

Boston Strong

April 15, 2023- The bells of Old South Church echoed across Copley Square in Boston at 2:49pm- the same time two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line 10-years ago. The blast of those bombs injured hundreds of participants and spectators and killed Martin Richard, 8; Lingzi Lu, 23; and Krystle Campbell, 29. Two police officers- Sean Collier, 27 and Dennis Simmonds, 28- also lost their lives during the efforts to find and arrest the bombers. For a decade, the Boston Marathon has been redefined by that singular event. Originally, the Boston Marathon was run from Metcalf's Mill in Ashland to the Irvington Oval in Boston to commemorate Patriots’ Day. For 117 years, the Boston Marathon honored the courage of those who fought the battles of Lexington and Concord that began the American Revolution. But on April 15, 2013, the act of terrorists awakened a new spirit in Boston, not just looking to the past, but claiming the present, determined to create a future. The city has chosen to be Boston Strong.

This 10-year anniversary of tragedy has invited the world to glimpse a people and a city determined not to be reduced to victims. Instead, stories of survivors who have claimed life and purpose have flooded into the media. 

On that day ten years ago, the Richard family stood near the finish line to watch the runners achieve their goals. Martin told his family that when he was old enough, he was going to cross that finish line. But on April 15th tragedy struck, killing 8-year-old Martin and leaving his 7-year-old sister Jane seriously injured. Ten years later, Team MR8 tackled the course together- Martin’s brother Henry, three of Martin’s childhood friends and his second-grade teacher- Rachel Moo. Together, they claimed Martin’s goal, celebrating the life of a vivacious 8-year-old. In 2013, the Richard family began a foundation to honor Martin’s life. Since 2013 the Martin Richard Foundation has raised more than $6 million for children’s causes. From victim to Boston Strong.

Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes were newlyweds in 2013. Like many newlyweds, they were looking forward to building a life together- home, work, family. But on April 15, 2013, their lives changed dramatically when they went to watch the Boston Marathon. Patrick lost one leg in the bomb blast that day. Jessica ultimately lost both legs. They were among seventeen people who lost limbs in the bomb blasts, one tragic story after another. The day after the bombings, Marines from the Semper Fi foundation came to visit the victims in Boston hospitals. Each Marine had their own story of tragedy. Marine Sergeant Gabe Martinez lost both of his legs, and Marine Captain Cam West lost one leg in Afghanistan.

They knew the physical and emotional toll faced by bombing victims, so they travelled to Boston, not just to bond with the bombing victims, but to give them hope after tragedy. Kensky and Downes asked for and were granted the opportunity to rehab with survivors from Afghanistan, finding those soldiers could understand their struggle to reclaim their lives. The Semper Fi Foundation continues to support bombing victims as they work to reclaim their lives- from tragedy to victory. Today, Jessica works as an oncology nurse and Patrick is a clinical psychologist working with veterans. Both serve at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. From victim to Boston Strong.

Every town and city that has known the horror of acts of violence against their community is forever changed. Yet, each community must choose how they will respond. In Boston, the signs Boston Strong quickly defined the city’s heart response to their tragedy. Groups like the Boylston Street Family emerged as people began to bond together after the tragedy. When the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub happened in 2016, the Boylston Street Family survivors traveled to Orlando to comfort the victims and their families. This year, Boston’s Mayor Michelle Wu invited community-based organizations, businesses, city workers and residents to come together to share in acts of kindness across the city in One Boston Day. Boston is determined to turn tragedy into victory. From victim to Boston Strong.

While our local community has not faced such a dramatic singular event, many of us feel buffeted by one wave of violence, anger and hatred after another. Each wave impacts our view of life and steals away our joy. We wonder if the good old days we dream about will ever return. Perhaps, we need to consider the choice Boston has made, to rise up out of the ashes to be a stronger community, a more compassionate community. That choice is at the heart of the resurrection- Jesus choosing to face the horror of the cross to claim life for us in the empty tomb. Will we allow the brokenness around us to define our days, or will we live victoriously into that resurrection life? I am hopeful that we will be Lenape Valley Strong.

With you choosing to claim the day the Lord has made,
Posted in

No Comments