Among the petitions in the Great Litany of the Greek rite—sung at Vespers, Orthros, and the Divine Liturgy—is for "those held captive and for their salvation." In our comfortable modern lifestyle we rarely find any substance for this petition except for when we see a news story about someone being kidnapped by a madman or captured by ISIS. Yesterday I had the rare experience of witnessing a real application for this prayer.
I work high up in a forty-story building, at the base of which is a bank. A man walked into the bank, produced a weapon, demanded money, and took two hostages out the backdoor of the bank with him. Returning late from a business lunch, I happened upon a police cruiser and thought to myself, "Best not j-walk here." Then another cruiser, and another, and another until I attempted to cross the street to my building. "Can't cross here," a man wearing a bullet-proof vest and holding an AR-15 said to me. "Can I go around?" "No, the whole block's closed. Please leave." A man next to me clad in a well-tailored suit informed me, "There was a bank robbery and two hostages are still missing. The building is under lock-down." I returned to the restaurant to pass the time with my co-workers. Twenty minutes later the lock-down continued. A friend and I visited a coffee shop and mistakenly asked tax accountants to tell us when the all-clear came through. Tax accounts can compute through a nuclear meltdown. After ninety minutes the lock-down ended and I returned to work.
Here was a real moment when anyone—a businessman, a bystander, a teller—could have found himself before the awesome judgment seat of Christ and called to account for his life before the Creator of life. It did not happen, but at any moment it really could without our control or cooperation. The Good Lord smiled upon us that day though and deliver the hostages, locked in a bathroom near the backdoor (sounds like an inside job).
Et redemit nos ab inimicis nostris: quoniam in aeternum misericordia euis