Sermon: How Do We Respond?

In my office, I have a list of sermon topics for the next few weeks. Topics that have been prayed over and approached with a hope of seeking what God desires to say to us for that specific Sunday. That list has sermon topics and passages through the end of the summer.

Sometimes, though, plans need to change. Today is one of those Sundays. If all things were the same, we would continue our series on the “Life of David” by looking at the story of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17. We would have marveled at David’s ability to defeat Goliath and, perhaps, say something about how God enables us to overcome the overwhelming challenges we face.

That would have been a nice message, but it would not be appropriate for this Sunday. We’ll get back to David next week, but for now I think it is important for us to reflect upon the events of this past week.

On Wednesday evening, nine people were killed at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., following a Bible study. Among the dead were pastors, parents, and people who had their whole life before them. The accused shooter, Dylan Roof, has been arrested. In the days since the shooting stories have come out that suggest this was a targeted event because of their ethnicity. Continue reading “Sermon: How Do We Respond?”

Celebrating Father’s Day When You Don’t Want to Celebrate

I have a confession to make. I am a father who does not like Father’s Day.

It’s not because of the ugly ties or coffee mugs that seem to be the favorite gifts on this day, but it is because of something much deeper and more important for me. I do not like Father’s Day, because it reminds me of the pain of never knowing my own father and having a difficult, perhaps sometimes abusive, relationship with my step-father.

Most of Father’s Day, for me, is about getting through the day. It is a busy day of celebration and worship, but one where I try not to think about my own hurt or loss. Even as I am now a father and enjoy nothing more than being with my son on Father’s Day, I still struggle with finding a reason to celebrate on the Third Sunday of June.

I know I am not alone. Father’s Day is difficult for many, either because of fathers who are no longer present or fathers who were not fathers to their children. If you are like me, though, you are asking how do we celebrate this day for fathers when our fathers were never there? Continue reading “Celebrating Father’s Day When You Don’t Want to Celebrate”

Prayers in Response to the Charleston Shooting

Sadly, we find ourselves shocked, saddened, and frustrated by another shooting in the nation. The shooting took place following a Bible Study at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., which led to the deaths of several individuals. Among the dead is believed to be Clementa Pickney, 41, who was the church’s pastor and a state legislator.

The investigation is ongoing and is focused on the alleged shooter, Dylan Roof, 21. In this difficult time, we each have our questions and frustrations about why someone would do such a thing. Yet, we must use this time, even in our questions, to come together as a community. We must no longer see ourselves as disconnected parts of a whole. We must see ourselves as children of God, loved by God, and connected to one another through Jesus’ love for all people.

We can begin to do this through prayer. What follows are a collection of short prayers for various groups and individuals involved with this tragedy. I invite you to use these prayers during your devotion time and to offer them as your own prayers. Continue reading “Prayers in Response to the Charleston Shooting”