Congregation of Alabama Church remembered the "unconditional love" shown by the three shooting victims, encouraging everyone to heal together.
Rev. John Burruss addressed the incident that happened during their litany prayer when three people had died at the hands of a gunman named Robert Findlay Smith while attending the "Boomers Potluck" gathering at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills last Thursday.
Burruss said that morning was indeed dark for them yet they were gathered in prayer as a Church to hold each other's grief and plead at the foot of the cross. According to him, it felt like a Holy Saturday when Mary was weeping outside Jesus's tomb; when His disciples came to know their beloved friend who affected their lives in many ways had been taken away by death.
Embody The Unconditional Love
Referencing the story of Last Supper, he shared that three nights ago, Walter Rainey, Sarah Yeager, and Jane Pounds had sat and shared dinner with everyone in the community. Burruss remembered them as devout Christians who practically live in the church because of their service. He mentioned that they made sure everyone was welcome at the table. He said, "They modeled unconditional love as they have faithfully done in their lives."
He shared that there was no doubt in his mind that the three would invite their "Judas" again to sit down for a meal because according to him, they know how to embody unconditional love which Jesus Christ first modeled 2000 years ago. Burruss said that the three taught them that everyone was welcome at the table.
He led the congregation to heal in a way of grieving and trusting the Lord's unconditional love. Burruss said that they must follow the three's example of unconditional love by welcoming strangers, serving neighbors, and reaching out in love. He said that they would respond to the incident by reaching out to the hurting world.
Focus On Good Things
Amid tragedy, he said it's not hatred but unprecedented love and compassion from every people who had reached out to their community, praying for them and helping them. Burruss said that counselors will be joining them in the coming weeks to help them cope. Many were sending food, flowers, and messages of hope from 14 parishes in their dioceses and other faith leaders around the world. He encouraged the congregation to look at the good things instead that have been happening in their community.
As the church started its healing, Smith, who was reported an occasional attendee of the church that killed the three people, was now under the custody of the authorities after being subdued by a "hero," CBS News reported.
District Attorney Danny Carr said in the report that Smith has been held by the authorities for the capital murder of two or more people without bonds. Police Capt. Shane Ware said the person who restrained and held the suspect until the police arrived played a vital role in keeping the safety of many lives.