Stay With Us

I wrote this for our church blog last week after hearing the news about the shootings at Emmanuel AME.

charleston-shooting-victims-feat1

I’m not one that says much, in that way, I’m a lot like my Dad.

But this week’s slayings at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina left me without words. A young man was welcomed to take part in a Bible Study. The attendees sat with him for an hour as people discussed scripture and prayed. Then, as the meeting ended and the people prepared to go home, the young man took out a gun and did the unspeakable.

A wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing entered the fold. Nine of God’s children were gunned down.

There is a lot to talk about in light of this week’s events. We can and will talk about the perniciousness of racism. What did this man learn that told him that a group of people were seen as problem to be “solved” rather than a people to be loved?

But while we deal with the shock and anger of such an act, it is important to remember something- something that has been forgotten in all of the news coverage. The name of this historic church says it all: Emmanuel, God with Us.

It might seem that God was absent as the shots were fired, but God was there. God wept over the nine people who died. God was also with the a white woman outside of Charlotte, NC who spotted the suspects car and was able to aid police in his capture. God was present a the memorial service in the Presbyterian Church down the street where people of every race and hue came together as a community to mourn. God was there when three women, two African America and one white who were strangers, came together in front of the church to pray.

The fact is, that even in the wake of such horror, at a time when it would not be out of place to wonder where God is, we are reminded in the name of a church that God has not abandoned us, evil will not win. It will never win.

None of this means we won’t ever faith heartache or even worse. But in life and in death, we are never alone.

I am reminded of the hymn “Stay With Us,” written by the late Lutheran Herb Brokering. It’s been years, but I can remember that last time I sang it; sitting in a church in St. Paul on the even of September 11, 2001. It is a hymn of comfort during a trying time. I can’t find the lyrics, but I can remember it being truly what was needed in a time of confusion, sadness and anger.

God still Stays with Us. God is with us. Even if we lose our lives, God is always with us. Evil will not win. Hate will not have the day.

God is With Us. God is With Us. God is With Us.

Amen.

-Dennis Sanders, Acting Pastor

The above photo is a composite photo of the nine shooting victims, including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson, Rev. Daniel Simmons and DePayne Middleton-Doctor.

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2 thoughts on “Stay With Us

  1. God bless you and yours. God is with us indeed. He is with us as we are united against every evil. Nothing that happens has happened without His knowing. As Christians we must remember that to be in God’s perfect Will is to accept our given path. We have no idea of the path we play in His story (history) – but He does. Shortly before Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson, Rev. Daniel Simmons, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, and Tywanza Sanders – lost their lives that day, they had no idea that they would die in the house of the Lord. What awaited them as their spirits left their bodies had to have been worth more than their lives on Earth; that’s the faith we have in our God regardless of what happens to us on Earth. We are -> here <- but for a short time; and then we go home to our heavenly father where we will understand the role we played in this entire Universe. The evil that spoke that day did not get in the way of God's plan for these God-loving people. These faithful people played their part in a tragedy designed for the rest of us to learn from. We must remain thankful that we are on the right side of His story. God was clear when He told us about evil – it is just a shame that each tragedy is the one that reminds us of who we are and who we belong to. When evil strikes, God knows what he has put in place for His people. It is our faith that keeps us grounded and unable to be carried by the ugliness of it all. Today, like every other day, is a day for empathy and love demonstration. We must embrace it daily. We must accept God's promises wholeheartedly. We must shut the mind to the evil of the world and remember that every event is an opportunity to see what God is showing us.

    "Thank you for sharing your heartfelt message Pastor. May you increase in wisdom and love, in Jesus mighty name, Amen."

    "Lord Jesus – please place each and every one us that read this, on the right path today. You came here to do your Father's business and you left us a clear message of Love, help us understand it Lord – help us grow the way it was always intended."

    Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Your Kingdom Come, thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others that trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

  2. Reblogged this on Flick and commented:
    God bless you and yours. God is with us indeed. He is with us as we are united against every evil. Nothing that happens has happened without His knowing. As Christians we must remember that to be in God’s perfect Will is to accept our given path. We have no idea of the path we play in His story (history) – but He does. Shortly before Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson, Rev. Daniel Simmons, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, and Tywanza Sanders – lost their lives that day, they had no idea that they would die in the house of the Lord. What awaited them as their spirits left their bodies had to have been worth more than their lives on Earth; that’s the faith we have in our God regardless of what happens to us on Earth. We are -> here <- but for a short time; and then we go home to our heavenly father where we will understand the role we played in this entire Universe. The evil that spoke that day did not get in the way of God's plan for these God-loving people. These faithful people played their part in a tragedy designed for the rest of us to learn from. We must remain thankful that we are on the right side of His story. God was clear when He told us about evil – it is just a shame that each tragedy is the one that reminds us of who we are and who we belong to. When evil strikes, God knows what he has put in place for His people. It is our faith that keeps us grounded and unable to be carried by the ugliness of it all. Today, like every other day, is a day for empathy and love demonstration. We must embrace it daily. We must accept God's promises wholeheartedly. We must shut the mind to the evil of the world and remember that every event is an opportunity to see what God is showing us.

    "Thanks to this Pastor for sharing his heartfelt message. May God increase his wisdom and love, in Jesus mighty name, Amen."

    "Lord Jesus – please place each and every one us that read this, on the right path today. You came here to do your Father's business and you left us a clear message of Love, help us understand it Lord – help us grow the way it was always intended."

    Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Your Kingdom Come, thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others that trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

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