Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Linglestown, Pennsylvania, USA
With the events that have taken place at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston South Carolina, I find it very difficult to even express my feelings. Why did these nine saints of the church perish? What words of comfort do I use to help heal the pain that has to be present for the members of the church in Charleston.
I have drifted back and forth and found myself returning to Psalm 23. Verses 4 stands out as the Psalm states, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.” How do we stand up against such evil that has taken place inside the walls of that church? We all experience lows in our lives and when we turn to scripture we can find some comfort for our lives. This evil has been met with forgiveness by the members of Emanuel AME Church. They have been in the darkest valley but they realize that the Lord is walking with them in their grief. What special words these are knowing that the Lord is our shepherd and is the one who can lead us out of the valleys of despair. It is the Lord who will comfort us in our times of sorrow and now is one of those great times when people turn to violence without any regard for those who they hurt. Pause for just a moment today and read those words that point us to our Lord’s tender care as our shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil’ my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.” (NRSV translation)
May God’s peace be with the members of Emanuel AME Church and also with you.
-- Pastor Kerns