The Christ Child In The Shadow of Sutherland Springs, Texas

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                               December 17, 2017

             

On November 5 of this year a shooter stormed into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas and opened fire. Twenty-six people were killed that day. Twenty-three inside the building, two outside, and one who died on the way to the hospital.

Ten years ago this month 24 year old Matthew Murray shot and killed Stephanie and Rachel Works, and wounded their father and two other people outside New Life Church in Colorado Springs. The night before he had shot and killed two staff members at a Youth With A Mission center in Arvada, Colorado.

Two years ago Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people who were attending a mid-week prayer service at the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Violence in the midst of American churches is becoming a bit too frequent for us. The fact is that violence in churches in other places around the world is much more frequent. Religious persecution in those faraway places that we only know about from page 15 of the news section of the Sunday paper is a way of life.

Let’s be honest! There are a limited number of “safe places” today. Schools now have security procedures, but shootings still happen there. Malls and work places, parks and restaurants…they all appear in the list of places where people have died in mass shootings.

And then we read the story of the Christ child, and see the violence in the miraculous event: Herod has his henchmen slash the life out of infant boys. It seems strange that the miraculous story of God could be stained with the violence of man. It gives us a sense of the uncomfortable truth of our day; that the ways of God will always meet the resistance of the world and its ways.

Joe and Claryce Holcombe lost eight family members in the Sutherland Springs church shooting. They are still approaching the season of Advent with hope and joy filtered through the experience of sorrow. Married for sixty years they look forward to the day of reuniting with departed family in heaven. It gives them tempered peace even as they will be looking at the empty places at the dinner table this Christmas.

Bad things happen in this world, but not just to followers of Jesus. Bad things happen to everyone. The difference that gives us peace is that Jesus followers are also accompanied by the Christ who comes alongside them in the journey. In the hostility of the world he is our safe place, a shelter in the midst of the storm.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Christmas, Community, Death, Faith, Freedom, Jesus, love, Nation, Parenting, Pastor, Prayer, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

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2 Comments on “The Christ Child In The Shadow of Sutherland Springs, Texas”

  1. Ed Says:

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    “There is no peace on earth,” I said;

    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,

    With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

    —”I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, written Christmas Day, 1863 (Longfellow had lost his beloved wife two years earlier in a tragic fire, and his son had just been seriously wounded in battle in the Civil War.)


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