This is the meditation I am giving at the Community Prayer Breakfast sponsored by our local hospital, Danville Regional Medical Center.
A Story of Prayer and Community
We have gathered here this morning because we believe in two things — the power of prayer and our responsibility to our community. So we have come together to pray for our community, that we can find new ways to deal with old problems, that the promise of Jesus is true when he said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” — Matthew 5:9
In a day when violence seems unrelenting, and neighborliness is a quaint sentiment, let me tell you a story in which we might find some hope.
Not far from here, just across the North Carolina line, lies the little community of Cedar Grove, North Carolina. Cedar Grove is like many of the small rural communities around here. A changing economy and hard times have reduced the once-thriving crossroads to a couple of churches and a post office.
But Bill King and his wife, Emma, had high hopes for the little bait-and-tackle shop they opened just down the road from the Cedar Grove United Methodist Church. The Kings had to run the drug dealers out of the cinderblock building they bought. But gradually business picked up, and families even brought their kids to the little country store for ice cream on hot summer days.
One hot June day in 2004, an intruder walked into Bill’s store and shot him in the back of the head. Bill died from the gunshot wound, and any sense of security and innocence Cedar Grove might have had disappeared that day.
Outraged, the neighbors demanded that something be done. One suggested to Grace Hackney, pastor at Cedar Grove United Methodist Church, that they offer a reward for the arrest and conviction of the killer. But Grace had a better idea. She suggested they gather in front of Bill and Emma’s store in a prayer vigil for their community. Continue reading “Becoming Peacemakers In An Age of Chaos”