Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Gun Shot Near the Church

We had a wonderful service of worship on Sunday, January 10. It was baptism of the Lord Sunday; so, we renewed our baptismal covenant coming forward to the baptismal font. I preached a sermon on Evangelism, the first in a series. I asked the congregation to think about the conversion of Saul/Paul in light of their own beginnings in faith. I asked them to reflect on their own story. When was it that you said "yes" to Christ, I asked them.

The service ended. Folks headed for the doors, emotions still flowing, filled with the joy of the day. Just outside, within a stone's throw of the church, Henry St. was blocked off. We heard sirens during the service, but did not hear the gun shots that took a man's life. A man robbed a convenience store and stole the car of the guy in the store. Police gave chase and ran the man down near the church. The man was shot dead after threatening police with a shotgun or something.

News says that he was a good man, a churchman, a Christian and no one knows exactly what happened. Drugs? Desperation? It was sobering to come out of worship on a high and to find that just across the street a gunfight had broken out.

Some will remember that a couple of years ago, when I was on vacation, during the service, during the Children's Time, a man came down to the children and looked them over. He turned and ran out of the church, got into his car, and left. Ushers could not get a license plate number. What did he want/need? Was he looking for someone?

It was unsettling to say the least. People for weeks were a bit frightened by this. We enacted some safety measures. When everyone is in church, all the doors are locked to secure the nursery and vulnerable adults from harm.

I guess the world has never been a totally safe place; look what it did to Jesus. We have a wonderful officer who worships at our church who helps us with this. We are doing all we can to make church a safe place to be. When that is threatened, it's unsettling.

But, Sunday, across the street a man died. All of us think: "What could we have done differently? Why? Is there something we can do to help someone like that?"

Many years ago when the great Charles Allen was pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Atlanta the church decided to cancel Sunday night services because of dwindling attendance. Shortly after the services were cancelled, someone committed suicide on the steps of the church on a Sunday night.

Charles Allen said that he would never again cancel Sunday night services. He asked:"What if we had been here in church when this man came by thinking of taking his life?" It might have made a difference. Of course, it might have happened anyway.

It makes me ask in the midst of our world: "Are we doing all we can to be there for people who have gotten so desperate, that...?"

It's worth asking as we get going in 2010. It's certainly better to be here than not for someone. God has put us here for his purposes. God use us for your purposes.

See you in Church!
Dave Nichols

1 comment:


Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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