On Friday, Feb 19, a terrible, terrible tragedy and crime occurred in Celina TX that has shaken this community, town, and region to its core. We’d like to think that such terrible things happen far away from us, and far away from our safe neighborhoods; but we’ve discovered a terrible truth that evil can happen right next door.
Our hearts are broken over the victims, a mother and her two young teen children (a girl and a boy); our outrage is almost boundless toward the perpetrator; and our illusions of safety have been shattered. And that is why we have gathered together this evening to remember the victims, offer comfort and support to one another, and pray that such things never happen again.
We don’t know what went on in this house or the evolution of evil or madness that grew in in the husband’s heart; but we do know that there are better ways to deal with our emotions than letting them all loose: better ways to resolve family problems than violence and murder: better choices than rage, hate, and revenge: and better outcomes than this tragedy of death, destruction, and ruin. But these things seem to happen more and more these days. And it seems clear that as…
- …people embrace the idea that they are justified in unleashing their anger and hatred in words and deeds, violence grows.
- That when people believe that they are their own judge of right and wrong, that the world simply gets darker.
- That as courtesy and kindness are deemed old-fashioned, that violent, provocative words multiply exponentially.
- That as people believe that they really can’t help themselves, that there’s no God, no judgment, and no consequences in this world or the next — they become more hopeless, more self-centered, and more malevolent.
- As people reject the ideas of responsibility, self-control, and God’s unchanging standard of right and wrong the world descends into deeper and deeper evil.
You see, when God is factored out, anything goes, civilization and society breaks down, individuals sink into hopelessness, the beastly law of the jungle prevails, and “might becomes right”. Mankind’s worldly wisdom always ends up at the same tragic destination.
So, what is there for us to do?
We can most importantly let this tragic event remind us of the profound need we have for God, to both guide us and comfort us. It is the Lord alone who can not only offer comfort and peace, but also makes things right in the end. The apostle Paul tells us that all things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28), and we can rely on both the promise and the Promiser in the here and now and the hereafter. It is in Him we must place our trust. Though we don’t know all the things that went on in the heart of the perpetrator, such acts are often the result of hopelessness. But God offers hope and justice and peace. Place your hearts and hands and lives into God hands in faith and obedience. He specializes in mending broken hearts, broken souls, and broken lives.
We’re reminded of this life’s transitory and fragile nature. The NT writer James compared life to a “vapor” — now you see it, now you don’t. COVID has already reminded of us this, but the kind of tragedies like the one on Hickory Lane are even sharper prompts — not so that we will invest so much more in this life, as much as that we should remember to “store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matt. 6:20).
But this tragic event also reminds us how important community and relationships are — even in a age of COVID, social distancing, and masking. This evening is a wonderful demonstration of the community, support, comfort, counsel, and solidarity found in this neighborhood — manifested in this candle-light vigil. We should thank the organizers for this and for reminding us by all the candles here that there is more to our neighborhoods than superficial greetings as we jog by, or see each other as we mow our lawns, or pick our kids from school. There are friendships, sharing, and support to be found behind many a door, and that we must be our brother’s keeper.
It reminds us of how important compassion is…of how we need to be more aware of one another’s struggles…how we should reach out to each other with listening ears, encouraging words, and genuine concern.
This evening we remember, the three victims. Not many of us here knew them well, but we will always remember this tragedy. To all who grieve and strain to know why, no reason will be satisfying, but if I may offer a final couple of words of spiritual advice…
- Pour your heart out to God in prayer; you’ll find no greater friend
- Pr.3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”