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  • Pastor Linda Settles

After This


This was another rough week. We have seen the images, the memorial crosses, the faces of anguished families and a community that is devastated.


In the wake of the devastating news coming out of Uvalde, Texas, I want you to know that I am thinking about you and your families. We extend our deepest sympathies to all those affected by this unspeakable tragedy.


Maybe you responded to the events by hugging your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew a little bit longer today. Perhaps you called them just to check in. Maybe anxiety set in as you dropped them off to school. Maybe you shared some extra quality time with them. And maybe you’re still processing everything yourself. These events can be triggering for those who have experienced death in their own families, especially if it was due to gun violence.


Many times we feel helpless or even hopeless. I get it. God seems to have failed them because nineteen innocent lives were taken from the world. Future teachers, scientists, artists, moms, dads, pastors. Their lives ended much too soon. Then there were the two hero teachers who died protecting their students. Their actions remind me of what Jesus spoke:


“Greater love has no one than this:

to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:13


Those two brave teachers sacrificed their lives for their students. We’ve heard story after story of sacrifice and heroism, including children who tried to call 911 to send the police and save them.


But one story sticks in my mind. Little Ellie Garcia, nine years old, soon to be ten. She loved the Lord and loved her church. In fact, she was learning a verse to say in church this Sunday. What verse?


“Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors…”

Deuteronomy 6:18


My hope is that we would honor Ellie, her 18 classmates and two teachers by doing what is right and good in the Lord’s sight. After this, we usually send “thoughts and prayers.” And pray we must. But we must also turn our prayers into action. After this, may we not go back to life as “normal.”


After this, we have an opportunity to do something to make it harder for teenagers to inflict this kind of pain on others, whether it’s Uvalde, Buffalo, or any of our communities, destroying families forever. Trust me, this isn’t about politics, but safe policies. It is about caring for the most vulnerable among us, our children, and in the case of Buffalo, our seniors. It is about human compassion for other human beings.


And for the 21 victims, now 22 because one of the teacher’s husbands had a heart attack and died due to his immense grief, for those precious souls, we are reminded that after this, Jesus has already prepared a place for them.


“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

John 14:1-3


This tragedy did not take God by surprise. The Lord had already made preparations for them. So, after this, they were transported from those rooms of terror to rooms not made by human hands, rooms full of love and peace where Jesus is. As little Ellie put it, “Jesus died for us and when we die, we’ll live with Him.” May we do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight and take over the good land. Take it over for peace, justice, and love, and protect our nation from this kind of devastation.


Join us this Sunday as we continue with the sermon series based on the study The Trellis and the Vine. This Sunday is: After This. After Jesus ascended to Heaven, the disciples were left with their own “after this.” You can worship in-house at 10:00am (masks optional), or you can also join us online. For online worship go to www.umcgt.org.


State of the Church will be held in-house on next Sunday, June 5, immediately after worship. The board and I will provide an update on our finances, as well as big initiatives.


Trauma Healing. A safe and sacred space to just be. This group is open to all, in-house at 6:30 pm, on Thursdays. I encourage the entire church to come out and let the Lord minister healing to your soul! Our book is: Healing Waters and you can pick up a copy in the church office, at no cost. Or you can just come and be.


Breakthrough Prayer will kick off on Pentecost Sunday, June 5! What is it? It is a prayer movement in which we will elevate prayer in everything that we do, worship, meetings, small groups, children, youth, and adults. There will be a prayer that we will pray together in worship, but also we encourage you to pray every day as a church. We will have prayer request cards, moments of spontaneous prayer, whatever the Holy Spirit asks us to do, we will do. Let’s bombard the church, and our lives, with prayer. Remember, the church that prays together, stays together! And if we ever needed prayer, it’s now. Oh, and wear your red for Pentecost!


Church, as you continue to navigate through this difficult time, know that your Pastor, the Care Team, and the Prayer Team are here to support you and your family, if and when you need us. You can call me at 314-324-8405 or call the church office at 314-469-6740.


“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39


Blessings,

Pastor Linda

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