This wasn’t the post I had planned to share with you today, but sometimes, life interrupts us and won’t let us go back to “normal,” won’t let us forget what we still need to address and honor and remember. So today, I lit nine candles for nine lights that used to shine in Charleston.
Notice how the light dances and spreads. Even with only nine flames, there are far more points of light in the picture. But blow out the candles, and the light leaves not only the candle’s wick but also the places where it had previously shared its light.
I’d like to honor each of the nine lovely men and women of Charleston who died too soon, who died because of the color of their skin, who died in a holy place, who died studying God’s word for them, who died because we are a country unwilling to curb our appetite for guns, who died because of a white man’s poisoned heart and mind, who died at the hands of one to whom they had shown kindness and hospitality, who died because sometimes hate wins a temporary battle here, who died confident they were bound for glory.
I have chosen verses for all of them based on what little I have learned about them this past week. They all lived lives worth celebrating, and I hope these verses help reflect the love they felt for God and the love God feels for them. May they rekindle some light in us all.
Susie Jackson, 87: “Her children rise up and bless her; … A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the products of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:28, 30–31)
The Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., 74: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38–39)
Ethel Lance, 70: “Therefore you too have grief now, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” (John 16:22)
Myra Thompson, 59: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:9–11)
Cynthia Graham Hurd, 54: “The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.” (Revelation 3:5, NIV)
The Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49: “I will sing of lovingkindness and justice, to You, O Lord, I will sing praises. I will give heed to the blameless way. When will you walk with me? I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.” (Psalm 101:1–2)
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7–8, NIV)
The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41: “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, … proving to be an example to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:1–5)
Tywanza Sanders, 26: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:12-14)
John 1:5 has been a favorite verse of mine for many years. Some translations use the word overcome instead of comprehend. I love it either way, because it delivers a message of hope, of love, of power, of triumph over evil.
Do you have a verse that has helped you this past week? If so, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.
Please come again next week for an update on last week’s owl post. I won’t have forgotten the important events in Charleston, and I hope you won’t either. But the owl’s is a story I want to share with you, too.