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A Message from Rev. Fuller

November 5, 2017

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today, on all Saints Sunday 2017, twenty-five brothers and sisters in Christ left the church militant and joined the glorious church triumphant.

Shortly after our own services were over this morning, we received word of a fatal mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (only a few miles from San Antonio). As of the writing of this post, twenty-five people have been confirmed as killed, and approximately thirty people were wounded. Following a chase, the shooter was killed by police and the threat was neutralized.

All of the fatalities are heartbreaking, and each one is personal. My own thoughts keep going back to the pastor of FBC, whose 14 year-old daughter was killed in the massacre. This evening, when I explained what had happened to my own 14 year-old, he asked, “Why does this happen? What are they trying to do? Do they think Christians are just going to go away?”

At this point, we do not know who “they” are, or even if it was just one angry person. If we have read the Bible and have paid any attention to Christian history, then we know that proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ has always carried a risk. At times that risk may seem remote and irrelevant, but as we discovered this morning, it is always present. The darkness hates the light.

And yet, the darkness has not overcome it. Even though our grief is heavy, we remember the words of the Apostle Paul who said,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 fallen asleep. (I Thessalonians 4:13-14)  The great American Theologian Jonathan Edwards described it this way:

“Every Christian friend that goes before us from this world, is a ransomed spirit waiting to welcome us in heaven. There will be the infant of days that we have lost below, through grace to be found above; there the Christian father, and mother, and wife, and child, and friend, with whom we shall renew the holy fellowship of the saints, … There we shall have company with the patriarchs and fathers and saints of the Old and New Testaments, and those of whom the world was not worthy, with whom on earth we were only conversant by faith.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ said, In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  As the funeral liturgy reminds us, we live as people prepared to die, and we die as those prepared to live. In spite of the risks, every Sunday the people of God must continue to stand before the lost, hurting, broken and violent of this world and declare that we are not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of salvation to all who believe. (Romans 1:16)

Grace and peace. I love you. Soli Deo Gloria,

Bob Fuller