Parts of that day rainy day in 1949 or 50 I remember as if it were yesterday, while other parts remain vague.
At Williams Avenue School when we arrived in the mornings we didn’t go in until a bell sounded. Then we lined up behind our teachers and went into the building and up to our classrooms. However, on rainy days the boys and girls assembled in a divided common area.
It was on a Friday, I think, and I went to the boy’s area, sat down on the floor and leaned my back against the wall. Bobby Jones sat down beside me. Bobby was not in my class and I didn’t really know him that well, but he seemed like a nice kid. We exchanged a few words and he took out a Peppermint Patty, unwrapped the foil wrapper, broke off a good sized piece of it and gave it to me. I thanked him and that’s all I remember, except that was the last time I saw Bobby Jones.
Sometime later that day or the next, Bobby was accidentally shot and killed by an older boy as they played with a loaded pistol. I didn’t hear about it until I went to school the following week. The boy who shot him was a few classes ahead of me and I didn’t know him. All I remember is that he had red hair. He was pointed out to me a week or so after Bobby’s death. I remember no one talked to him, and then in a few days he was gone. I heard his family moved away.
The memory of Bobby Jones hasn’t haunted me though the years. In fact, I don’t remember thinking much about it at all. But at some point, perhaps whenever I hear of the accidental shooting of one child by another, I remember Bobby. I wonder what ever happened to the red haired boy. Did he grow up to be a fine man who let the horrible experience mold his life for the better? Or did it ruin him? How could he ever forget the look on Bobby’s face when the bullet struck him?
But what about Bobby’s parents? What about those who have to deal with such a tragedy? This was an accident, but a young boy died. What about the parents of the children in Newtown, Connecticut? That was no accident, but can they forgive? Could I? Is it asking more than we are able to give? If I said piously, “No it is not”, I would be stating words I’m not sure I could follow. I don’t know. I know what Jesus did. I know what he said. But I just don’t know.
I know what Abraham Sirgy said to me after last Sunday’s sermon. He said, in his own words, that to not forgive is to be eaten up and enslaved by the one who did the wrong. I believe that. But I also know that if we forgive without having some sense of, dare we call it, “resolution” we may feel we do not care about the one who was wronged or killed.
A few weeks ago I mentioned Helen Prejean, the nun who wrote “Dead Man Walking”. In a talk she gave at Duke University she spoke about her association with Patrick Sonnier, who, along with his brother, raped and murdered a sixteen year old girl and her boyfriend. Prejean became Patrick’s spiritual advisor as he awaited death in Louisiana. “Dead Man Walking” is about her journey.
She talked about how the death sentence is often described by attorneys as the “honorable” thing to do. To not do it dishonors the victim. Most of us can feel that, can’t we? But she went on to tell of the time she was asking mercy for Patrick, a life sentence instead of the death penalty. The dead girl’s parents were enraged that she would ask such a thing, and she understood. But when the boy’s father came by he said, “Sister Prejean, why didn’t you come and see us? You don’t know the pressure we are under because of the death penalty.” She went with them and prayed. Then she began to minister to them. The father said, “They killed my son, but I will not let them kill me.” And in the next months and years he forgave those two brothers for that unspeakable act.
Is that what forgiveness is? Is that what loving the enemy is? Jesus said so. As I struggle with that, I thank God every time I think about Bobby Jones or Newtown, that I haven’t had to think about it personally.
CONCERNS: Richard Crites is continuing to have tests to determine the origin of his back pain. T. J. & Judy Hall have been ill with cold-like symptoms. Helen Nicklas has almost constant pain. The following are in cancer treatment: Philip Pierce’s mother; Walther Wagner, Keith’s brother; Ruby Stahl, a relative of Alan Beach’s; Joni Beach’s cousin, Stephanie Ridney; Joni’s aunt, Marge Greenwood; Regan, a ten year old boy with brain cancer; Deanna McRoy; Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick; Jim Hunter, Connie Crites’ brother and Sharon and Billy. Seeking employment are Sam and Melisha. Remember also the Tuckers in their time of grief, Martha Foy’s parents, Ray Reiss, Alma Martin, Ron Matney, Jenni Cullum and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 4-9
Monday: Daniel 5:17-28
Tuesday: Matthew 14:44-52
Wednesday: I Samuel 17:41-54
Thursday”: Psalm 70:1-5
Friday: Matthew 7:13-29
Saturday: Psalm 1:1-15
OUR DAILY BRAED: MARCH 11-16
Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1-10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12
Each year a representative from the Gideons comes to tell us about their work of placing Bibles across the world. This year, Brad Buie will be the speaker. The date is next Sunday, March 10. He will speak just before the sermon and anyone who would like to contribute may do so in the foyer after the service.
A WONDERFUL THANK YOU
We have received a wonderful packet of thank you letters from the children at the Lincoln Terrace Elementary School for the hand-knitted scarves Judy Hall and her crew knitted for them. There are thirty-seven letters from what looks like first graders. Thanks to all of you who joined Judy in knitting these nice presents for the children.
If you notice that Vivian Dugan’s pew looks a little empty it’s because she is spending March with her daughter over on the coast while Kathy and Jeff are on a cruise.
It would seem the best way to solve a problem is to find a solution. Since we announced the valet service for the handicapped area, there seems to have been no need for it. However, if you would need it, or would simply like to use it, see Karen Branch and she or AC will meet you at the lower parking lot, drive you to the handicapped door and then return your car from the lower lot after the service. It’s better than riding in a golf cart.
THE BAR B QUE COOKER
If you’ve looked behind the annex it may seem the cooker has been vandalized. It hasn’t. One of its legs just gave up the ghost. We have been looking to make some improvements on it so this is the time. You can be sure it will be ready for the Labor Day Weekend cookout.
A NEW LIGHT
As soon as the weather gets warmer, a long-needed motion light will be installed above the back door. It is very hard to see to get the key in the door at night. It will also add security to that area.
Don’t forget to save the pull tabs from aluminum cans for the Ronald McDonald House.