Church leaders offer words of comfort, faith

Published 6:00 am Sunday, December 16, 2012

Local pastors, ministers and priests will take to their pulpits this morning under the weight of a Friday morning shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 dead, the Newtown, Conn. community grieving, and the nation horrified.

     Local clergy said they planned to speak of Friday’s events with their congregations Sunday morning, but they also cautioned an awareness of the limits to understanding such enormous tragedy.

     Speaking Saturday night, the Rev. Garland Boyd of Macedonia Baptist Church acknowledged the reality of these limits even as he prepared how to speak to his church.

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     “We cannot understand from our human point of view God’s eternal perspective,” Boyd said. “Tragedies like this are certainly senseless.”

     The Rev. A.C. Herring of Holy Trinity Family Church echoed this statement, with similar remarks emphasizing the frailty of words at such a time.

     “It’s almost unbearable to even talk about,” Herring said. “It is so, so sad.”

     But these men, and other area clergy, further emphasized the resources their faith has to offer to those grieving and those shocked by Friday’s events.

     “God will see you through,” Boyd said. “We need to seek God all the more in tragedies like this.”

     With a little over a week until Christmas, the Rev. Russ Hightower of Faith Presbyterian Church said he sees the message of the Advent season providing a compelling statement of Christian hope.

     “Christmas is all about God coming into our suffering to fix it,” Hightower said. “The incarnation says our pain is real and the cross and resurrection says God will fix this.”

     He plans to remind his congregation they’re living in a story marked by tragedy but with an end God has already written.

     Said Hightower, “God will bring justice and heal everything.”

     Church leaders further emphasized the centrality of prayer in responding as a Christian to evils like Friday’s shooting.

     “The only thing I can say is pray and ask God to intervene,” said Herring. “Ask God for direction on which way to go to handle situations like this.”

     The Rev. Mike Lips of New Hope United Methodist Church also plans look to prayer as the primary response of congregations.

     “We’ll have a prayer to lift up the families,” Lips said. “That’s something everyone should do.”

     Lips believes prayer is essential for a person of faith in dealing with the heartbreak life entails, because God is essential.

     “No matter what kind of problem we’re having, the answer is God in Christ,” Lips said. “The number one thing is God.”