Rachel weeps again: Mourning with Charleston
The news out of Charleston late Wednesday night has served to once again remind us of what a fragile world in which we live. The horror of knowing that a shooting happened inside a church building where brothers and sisters in Christ were studying Scripture and praying only adds to that realization. Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston is the second oldest AME church in the United States and occupies an important place in the history of Charleston and on the historic tours you can take while visiting this great city. Growing up near Charleston and having a mother who grew up there, I knew Charleston as “The Holy City” – a name it claims because of its many beautiful, historic and influential churches. Emmanuel AME Church is one of those churches.
When Matthew tells the story of Herod’s wickedness in killing the baby boys in Bethlehem in hopes of getting rid of this pretender to being King of the Jews, he reminds his readers of words from Jeremiah – “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:16-18, Jeremiah 31:15) For Jeremiah, it was the bitter grief of exile for the people of God. For Matthew, the bitter grief of innocent babies being killed in the name of evil. For you and me – the bitter grief of knowing that nine followers of Jesus no longer walk among us because of the vicious evil that seems to raise its ugly head in our culture all too often.
If we read but a few more verses in Jeremiah, we are reminded that despite the awful grief such moments bring, we serve and worship a God who has promised “there is hope for your future . . . your children will return to their own land.” (Jeremiah 31:17) And for the family, friends, and loved ones of those killed in Charleston’s Emmanuel AME Church, we know that in Christ there is great hope for tomorrow.
Would you join with me in praying for these families, for the members of Emmanuel AME Church, for the City of Charleston and its residents, and for our country? These events are great reminders to us of just how important what we are doing at Point University — educating students for Christ-centered service and leadership throughout the world — really is. We also covet your prayers for Point’s influence to grow so that these events can become less and less as the kingdom of God advances.
Vice President for Spiritual Formation and Dean of the Chapel