When We Wonder...
It was a regular Sunday in Texas—a little warm for November, but in a small town like Sutherland Springs, kind of peaceful and sleepy. For all those making their way to church that morning the weather really didn’t matter. The Baptist Church is just off main street and on any given Sunday there would probably be 35-50 people in attendance. The church is important because it is also where many social events happened. Just a few weeks ago most of the town turned out for the Harvest Festival.
Sunday School would be first—preschoolers, children and youth looked forward to gathering with their friends as they sang and studied their Bible lesson about how to be people of God’s love and light in the world. Adults had their own classes and when Sunday School was over everyone would make their way to the sanctuary for worship. It was common to find multi-generational families sitting on the same pew—unless one was a teenager and then it was a “must” to sit with one’s friends. The people in attendance last Sunday felt the warmth of the fellowship as they walked into worship— they weren’t just “parishioners, they were a close- knit family who ate together, laughed together, cried together and worshiped together.
Church began, they started singing and then while they were praying it all changed in a matter of minutes. In walked a man all in black—as he walked down the aisles of the church he began shooting. He didn’t discriminate at all-he shot children and adults alike. When he stopped 26 people had died, the youngest was 1 and the oldest was 77.
What are we to think in the face of such pain and suffering? It is true that we live in a world where bad things happen, but the God of life and light does not cause them to happen. God is as outraged about evil and suffering as we are. We wish and hope that God will step in and prevent it. But God doesn’t, they are a part of our earthly life. The most important thing to remember is that God is with us in our pain and suffering. God promises to weep with us when we weep, to hurt when we hurt—God enters our pain and walks with us so that we are never alone, never separated from God’s love. During the Holocaust a Nazi guard was taunting a Jewish prisoner who had been given the filthiest job--cleaning the toilets. The guard was standing above him looking down at him and said: “Where is your God now?” The prisoner replied: “Right here with me in the muck.” God is with us, is beside us in the midst of any evil or suffering the world has to offer. God does not take our suffering away, but bears it with us and gives us strength to go on. The words to an African-American spiritual express it well. I want Jesus to walk with me all along my pilgrim journey, Lord I want Jesus to walk with me. In my trials Lord, walk with me, when my heart is almost breaking, Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me. When I am in trouble, walk with me, when my head is bowed with sorrow I want Jesus to walk with me. And so he does.
Things will never be the same for the folks of Sutherland Springs and we who watch from the sidelines are left to consider what can we do to help prevent, yet, another senseless tragedy.
Collecting School Supplies for Our Neighborhood School
We are collecting school supplies for De Zavala, our neighborhood School: earbuds, fat pencils and crayons for pre-K student, pencils, 1” binders, erasers ( pink ones ), colored construction paper 9 x 12, dividers, individual dry erase boards, expo markers to write on boards, erasers for the boards, stickers to be used for student incentives, poly plastic folders, poster board to be used for student projects. Neighborhood folk are invited to drive by on the 5th Avenue side and drop the supplies off at Arts Fifth Avenue on November 12, and 19. So they won’t have to leave their car—a Breadite will be outside to take the supplies. Let’s us join together in making sure that all our students have what they need to be successful in school.
During December we will have a weekly gathering—watch for details!
Prayer of Healing for Those Who Suffer
O Christ of the road of the wounded
O Christ of the tears of the broken
In us and with us the needs of the world
Grant us our prayers of loving and hoping
Grant us our prayers of yearning and healing.
O God of the sun and the night skies
May your light be coming through thick clouds this night
On us and on everyone coming through dark tears
On each one in need and in suffering.