Text: St. Luke 17:1-10
It is well documented that in the 1900’s there was an issue among Blacks in the religious arena. Blacks were discontent with its discrimination treatment against them by the Methodist Episcopal Church. As a result the AME church was organized and assembled at the Bethel church in Philadelphia with its first Bishop Richard Allen. It is also important to know that the AME Church dates back to 1816.
The church was the pivotal spot for the gathering of blacks as a community outpost for communications. Today, many African American churches have some kind of mid-week services (Prayer Meeting, Worship Service and or Bible Study). On that dreadful Wednesday night it was no different. As Bible Study was being conducted by the Pastor Clementa Pinckney the Emanuel AME Church group welcomed a white man identified as Dylann Roof. After sitting with them decided to pull out a Goth hand gun, shot and killed nine of them.
Eight people died on the scene and the ninth person died at a nearby hospital while being treated. The victims included three men and six women with three survivors inside the church. The victims include:
- Susie Jackson, 87, who has long attended this church
- Daniel Simmons Sr, 74, a Reverend and pastor
- Ethel Lance, 70, who worked for the church for over 30 years
- Myra Thompson, 59, a pastor
- Cynthia Hurd, 54, a manager at the Charleston County Public Library
- Depayne Middleton, 49, a former director of Charleston County Community Development
- Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a pastor, speech therapist and track coach
- Clementa Pinckney, 41, the Reverend of the church and a State Senator
- Tywanza Sanders, 26, a recent graduate of Allen University
This 21 year old man (not a child) allegedly sat in the church for about one hour before opening fire. This individual had some serious issues which were apparent and not hidden among those who knew him. His parents were afraid to buy him a gun but yet gave him money for his birthday earlier this year.
On April 26, Mr. Roof was arrested for trespassing and had a second minor arrest on his record. According to a relative of one of the men shot inside the church, Roof said, “I have to do it. You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country.”
Closer to home there was more shootings whereby nine people were shot in just 11 hours.
It is considered “bloody Sunday in the city” with four fatal:
- the murder-suicide deaths of a disgruntled employee and his former boss at a Chelsea Home Depot
- 49-year-old bodega worker was killed when a gunman shot him in the chest while attempting to rob the Bedford-Stuyvesant store
- A 24-year-old man was also killed when a gunman shot him and a 20-year-old man, each in the head, at the Rochdale Village Houses in St. Albans, Queens.
These shootings and killings are turning our streets into a war zone. In the scripture lesson Jesus said to his disciples in Luke 17:1-4
… It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
To have a deeper understanding there are three key words to look at:
- Offences – define as acts that cause others to deviate from the path of right as well as shocking their moral sensibilities.
James 1:2-3 tells us “…count it joy when ye fall into diver temptations knowing …he trying of your faith worketh patience” –KJV
The NIV said, “consider it pure joy …whenever you face trials of many kinds knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
- A millstone. The parallel in Mark 9:42
“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” NIV
Mark calls it a millstone turned by a donkey, which indicates a mill larger than the ordinary domestic one.
- Seven times in a day. Seven offenses in one day would bring the person affected to the point of exasperation.
Luke 17:5-6 – And the apostles said unto the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The apostles could not believe that a habitual offender could be forgiven and
Faith as a grain of mustard seed. The mustard seed was the smallest of all the seeds known to the farmers of Palestine. Christ emphasized the vitality of faith rather than its quantity.
The tragedy and murderous action that happened in Charleston SC could happen anywhere in this country. The church with its desire to have doors open to whosoever will is no longer a safe haven for weary travelers. There are people walking among who have been identified as sick and worse many who have not been identified.
Just think about it, as I was holding Bible Study at the church at the same time people were being murdered, massacre in a sister church! Unfortunately, the holy place of God boundaries and restrictions has been minimized in our society.
Our society has a long standing problem “Racism.” There has been much talk about it, but little evidence that serious action and implementation have surface. Racism is defined as racial prejudice; racial bias; bigotry; racial discrimination; and segregation that is displayed by a Racist (one who believes in the supremacy of a particular group over another).
God created man and woman in His own image. We are the creation of mighty God’s handy work. Life is given by God and it appears many in our world have lost that sight.
How do we begin counteracting this sickness known as racism? I offer God’s Word found in 1 John 4:7-12. For God is Love.