Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Sunday worship comes naturally to me. My first congregation met in one of the schools located every three miles in rural areas in preparation for homesteaders. Most of these schools serve the dual purpose of being a church. Mine disbanded when I was five, and my family moved to a church in the small town of about 300 people located near our farm—a town about half the same size as Sutherland Springs, Texas.
I attended church on Sunday, November 5, 2017, in a church with a membership larger than my hometown. Returned home after worship to my normal routine of watching the previously recorded Sunday news programs only to hear the news that a man had entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and killed Twenty-some people with others injured. The presumed shooter eventually, apparently killed himself. He had a history of violence and assumed mental disorders. 1 Corinthians 15:55 popped into my head as one woman asked, “Can you feel your heart break?”
‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’
Such senseless death indeed stings those left to grieve in the moment of its occurring, and our hearts go out to all those caught in the pain of such loss. I am emboldened to continue the fight for improved mental health services and not to allow so many to fall through the gaps. Anyone with a traceable history of mental health issues or even violence should also have a traceable treatment history. Most of our nation does not have the services available to treat the most serious chronic mental health problems let alone those flying beneath the radar.
Prayer: Lord, strengthen us in the quest to heal troubled souls and offer new life to those lost in the struggle of mental illness. Amen.