Thursday, June 18, 2015

Community devotion: Why, God, Why? - Psalm 109:26

Psalm 109:26           Help me, Lord my God; save me according to your unfailing love.

            The inhumane horror that was unleashed last night at a Bible Study in Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina, is impossible to understand. Many of the victim’s families and friends, as well as the church members and community will be currently voicing a heartbreaking question of “Why? Why, God? Why?” It’s something that will never be satisfactorily answered. Man’s inhumanity to man is a blasphemous evil which contaminates the whole universe. Eons ago, when God created us and pronounced humanity ‘good,’ it didn’t take us very long to spoil His Creation. In our present age of polemic polarization, we are sadly seeing more of these wicked, horrendous, and barbarous events.

            At Erin Church, in Knoxville, Tennessee, our marketing team has just recently redefined our vision statement. It reads as follows:
“Unified in Christ, we actively seek to create harmony in a diverse community through compassion, mutual respect, and love.”

            It’s not a passive statement; it requires our church to get actively engaged in our city. In communities where fear and distrust, as well as violence and brutality are increasing, our church feels called to get involved in breaking down the barriers that we all have built around race, class, religion, and personal choice. It’s a communal calling which will challenge and change us especially, with the hope that we can bring about effective, positive, and compassionate changes locally, nationally, and even internationally.

            We may not understand why terrible, wicked, and painful events occur in the world, but we can face the challenges that such occurrences engender, by joining with others who truly seek harmony in our diverse community, through the active sharing of compassion, mutual respect, and love.

Questions for personal reflection

Where is my community broken, fearful, and divisive? What can my church do to heal the wounds and bridge the gaps?

Prayer:           Lord Jesus, we pray for the families and church members of Emanuel AME church in Charleston, SC. We know that their hearts will be painfully broken and their minds will be terribly confused. Surround them with Your Holy Spirit, as well as good people and compassionate churches who will care, embrace, and support them. Help us also to do all that we can to minister to our own community with Your compassion, respect, and love. In Your Holy Name, we lamentably pray. Amen.

John Stuart is currently the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is John’s latest stained glass type drawing of Jesus and His disciples on the boat during the storm. It’s called “Storm Stiller.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Storm Stiller.

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