Pastor Chad Scruggs, in his first sermon, since his 9-year-old daughter was killed in a mass shooting at a Christian school, opened up about the complicated nature of grief and thanked the church for supporting his family amid their pain.
Before the attack, the pastor of Covenant spoke of suffering in his sermon.
The phrase “Jesus wept” is the shortest passage in the Bible, but it is also one of the most meaningful.
It is the message that the Reverend Chad Scruggs gave on March 5 in a sermon titled “Death’s Conqueror.”
The faithful at Nashville’s Covenant Presbyterian Church resumed their Lenten journey toward Holy Week and Easter’s promise of new life beyond death.
Pastor Chad Scruggs’s sermon was given as part of the church’s journey toward the promise of new life after death that Easter offers.
What did he say about his daughter’s death?
“How do we face death in our world, especially untimely deaths,” he wondered, “without the pain and confusion of death leading us to despair?” He was referring to deaths that occurred unexpectedly.
That was three weeks before a gunman burst through the glass doors of his church’s Covenant School, where he killed three adults working at the school and three students aged 9 years, one of whom was the pastor’s daughter, Hallie Scruggs.
The perpetrator, identified as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, a former student at Covenant College who used the identity Aiden and male pronouns online, was shot and killed by the police.
The police have verified that Covenant was the intended victim.
However, both the Nashville authorities and the FBI have decided against disclosing the “manifestos mentioned in the last social media warning shared by Hale: “One day this will make more sense. I have left far more than sufficient evidence behind.”
Even as solemn Holy Week traditions flowed toward Easter (April 9), the families of those killed have mourned in solitude.
Despite being surrounded by debates on gun control and a devastating mental health crisis, they have persevered.
What was delivered in the Sermon Scruel before the assault?
In the Sermon Scruel delivered before the assault, he had already delved into deeper, profound, recent secrets.
He emphasized that believers can have faith that God knows the anguish, fury, and contentment generated by violence and death.
Jesus responded with compassion to the mourning family of his friend Lazarus. The Gospel of John captures the profound significance of this exchange in its simple yet powerful words, “He wept.”
In the video of that service that is available online, Scruggs has heard saying, “What makes Jesus so angry is the same thing that makes him weep.”
“It is the revulsion of everything in him against the power of death and the havoc that death is wreaking in the lives of those whom Jesus loves,” says one author.
Jesus strongly rejects death, both in his body and his heart. When those he loves suffer from his hated enemy, what does he do?
According to the Gospel of John, Jesus sat down and wept. This concise and powerful scripture, as Scruggs suggests, shows that Jesus truly empathizes with grieving individuals.
God weeps with those who cry, acknowledging the authenticity of pain and grief rather than denying or avoiding it.
In righteousness, Jesus joins his tears with theirs, grieving alongside those in mourning.
The Covenant School mass shooting tragedy
Reflecting on the tragedy at Covenant School, Brent Leatherwood, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, stated that although his family’s three children who attend the school are now safe.
The trauma and memories of the lost friends, classmates, leaders, and servants will forever remain with them.
While additional stories and lessons may emerge from this tragedy, Leatherwood believes that Covenant School will rise again.
With ample light and eager attention, the forces of darkness will never triumph over the forces of light, he stressed.
As a society, we cannot simply accept the loss of life due to natural disasters. The stolen lives of defenseless victims cannot be dismissed as a fact.
We must commit ourselves to solving this epidemic and relentlessly pursue a solution. I include myself in the group of people dedicated to finding answers.
Even when considering Good Friday and Easter through the lens of eternity, there remains a lingering question: “Why did Jesus weep?”
As Scruggs said, having full confidence in the story’s conclusion doesn’t lessen the sorrow we feel along the way.
The tears of a faithful heart contribute to the pain in our world. In these moments, we remember the words of Jesus, who said, “Blessed are those who mourn, as long as they do not lose faith in me and in the overcoming that lies ahead.”
Terry Mattingly is the leader of GetReligion.org and resides in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. They also serve as a senior fellow at the Overby Center, University of Mississippi.
Pastor Chad Scruggs’s Sermon after daughter’s death
Hallie Scruggs was the daughter of Pastor Chad Scruggs, and she is a young lady who was 9 years old.
On Mother’s Day, Chad delivered a moving lecture titled “Loss and Gain,” which he had prepared in advance.
Pastor Scruggs began by saying, “We love you. We loved you before March 27, and your love makes us love you more…thank you.”
Scruggs quoted John 19:23–27 in his remarks and mentioned the women who supported Jesus during his crucifixion.
It served as an introduction to his message. Scruggs says his wife and three sons struggle to move on from the family’s tragic ordeal.
Pastor Scruggs mentioned aiming to soar like eagles and run tirelessly during his sermon.
He stated that they were simply trying to walk without passing out. He also claimed that they were searching for their new standard at that point.
The absence of sadness in the middle does not mean it won’t be there in the end.
The tears of a developed faith were said to contribute to the pain in our world. Jesus remarked that “Blessed are those who mourn,” while expressing unwavering belief in the fact that those who put their trust in Him would eventually triumph over their sorrow.
Pastor Chad and his family have repeatedly requested seclusion as they prepare to confront the challenges.