Birkholz plans to mention the Boston Marathon bombings in her sermon Sunday, with a message of everlasting hope.
Through her running community, Birkholz knew someone volunteering at the marathon Monday and had another friend who planned to compete but was unable to do so because of an injury.
“Our scripture this weekend is about baptism,” she said. “I will probably tie in something about rebirth with a baptism weekend, but it will focus on hope.”
Birkholz said her congregation needs a message of hope after mourning over the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Conn., in December and now the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday, which killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, while injuring more than 170. It’s been one violent incident after another, she said.
Pastor Tom Davis at Due West United Methodist Church is concerned with the recurring incidents as well. Davis plans to address his congregation Sunday about not becoming numb to acts like the bombing or the Sandy Hook mass shooting.
“People try to rush to the ‘why’ before we even get to the ‘who,’” Davis said. “It could be gun rights activists or God did it for a lack of prayer, but we have to be part of the healing and the solution.”
Birkholz said she just went to Guatamala to do some mission work and remembers people telling her to “be careful.”
“Then I come home to this,” she said.
She will tell her 500 congregants that although it appears we’re really never safe, with God we are.
“It’s a message of always having hope and trust in God,” she said.
Hope will be a major point of focus among the Methodist churches as well, according to Jim Lowry, Atlanta/Marietta Superintendent for the United Methodist Church. Lowry oversees all Cobb County Methodist congregations and met with preachers from 48 churches Tuesday to discuss this weekend’s messages.
“Hope,” he said. “There’s fear, grief and concern, but we want to emphasize that there’s hope.”
Local Methodist churches are calling small groups together to pray for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings throughout this week, Lowry said.
“The whole country is praying for Boston,” Davis said.