Carol Hallman: Let us bring light

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 10, 2016

Last Saturday I attended the North Pole Breakfast for the Teen Parent Program sponsored by Families First prior to participating in the March for Love and Unity downtown. It was a good day. The Teen Parent program is a program that enables those young moms (and dads if they choose to participate) to learn parenting skills while encouraging them to finish high school and plan for the future. This year’s speaker spoke about the mistakes she made when she was younger and encouraged these young people to keep on trying no matter how hard, no matter what life throws at them. She told them that the people who were annoying them now were the ones they really needed in their lives, especially if these were people who encouraged them and challenged them to do better.

Following the breakfast I walked over to the Tower by the library where several hundred people were gathering for the march. There were people of all ages, races, genders, gathered. Many different religious affiliations were represented as well as our local colleges and the community in general. There was laughter, joy and hope.

It was a good day.

Unfortunately the next day was not a good day. There were three shooting deaths, one in Enochville and two here in Salisbury. One of those shot and killed was a seven year old girl who was at her grandmother’s. Her name was A’yanna Allen. In 2009 her father “Shugg” Allen was also killed on Christmas day. He was 27. I can’t imagine what those families are going through.

This season of Advent is supposed to be a season of peace, a season of hope a season of light, a season of joy. Yet for these families this year it is a season of pain, a season of sorrow, a season of grief.

Saturday was a time of joy and hope and excitement and then reality came crashing through. So what do we do? As a people of faith, what do we do when we are confronted by tragedy? First of all we pray. We pray for the families in their loss and in their grief. As much as we might not want to, we also are called to pray for our enemies, the ones who took these lives. Some would say that if that’s all we do it’s enough, but I would suggest that it’s not enough. These tragedies were preventable. Someone deliberately fired a weapon and took these lives. I can’t imagine that anyone deliberately wanted A’yanna to die, at least I certainly hope not. That does not change the fact that a family will be burying their child during Christmas.

I think that we have to keep on living out justice and peace in our world. I think that we need to continue to build community. I think we need to listen more to those who are different from us. I think we need to get involved in making a difference in the lives of children in our community. I think we need to be Christians, to live as Christians and to act as Christians. Where there is hatred, let us sow love, where there is violence, let us plant peace, where there is fear, let us bring hope and comfort, where there is darkness, let us bring light. If we want things to change then we need to first and foremost change ourselves. Only then can we begin to change the world.

Carol Hallman is resident minister at First UCC, 207 W. Horah St. 

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