Excerpts from local sermons and prayers
At Myers Park Baptist Church, pastor Steve Shoemaker compared last week’s school shootings in Connecticut to Herod’s slaughtering of the innocents at the time of Jesus’ birth. At Temple Beth-El, members spoke of the killings during a Hanukkah family service Friday. All weekend, houses of worships wove the deaths into sermons and prayers. Here is a sampling. Michael Gordon
“God, we lift up every precious family, not only in Connecticut but around the world. Every day, someone loses a son and daughter to evil. We do not understand that evil. But we will take a stand against it.”
Steven Furtick, pastor at Elevation Church
“By God’s hand, this dark day should convict and compel us as a society to find a better way. Action must follow, national resolve to end this self-indulgent madness of gun-making and availability. Other nations have done it in balanced and sane ways. We should be ashamed we haven’t.”
John Cleghorn, pastor of Caldwell Presbyterian Church
“The right thing in these times is, simply put, to live with courage – to live with heart, of the innermost feelings, on our sleeves ... Then we can talk about our culture of violence, because words like ‘hate’ and ‘kill’ will seem as strange on the tongue as love now seems to a stranger.
Robin Tanner, pastor of Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church
“People who sing carols about ‘peace on earth and goodwill’ need to have a conversation about assault weapons, and also about support for mental health.”
James Howell, pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church, who read the first name of every murdered child during his sermon
“God, as we light candles on this eighth night of Hanukkah, as we see lights twinkling on Christmas trees, remind us that one candle dispels the darkness. Show us how to be your light in our dark world. Convince us that every child – of every race, faith, culture and economic background – is your child ... our children.”
The Rev. Maria Hanlin, executive director of Mecklenburg Ministries
“Most of the time our spiritual enemy wounds invisibly. The enemy strikes in disguise. But this Friday, evil was all made plain, the battle was made visible.
“In these terrible days we came to see what John sees: Evil – strong and powerful – seeking to kill and destroy what is most precious and beautiful among us.”
Kate Murphy, pastor of The Grove Presbyterian Church