A senior pastor whose nine-year-old daughter was murdered in a school shooting in the US state of Tennessee earlier this year has delivered his first sermon since the tragic loss.
“First of all, we love you,” Rev Chad Scruggs told the Covenant Presbyterian Church as he choked back emotion. “We loved you before March 27, and we love you more now because of how you have loved us.”
Rev Scruggs lost his daughter Hallie in March after 28-year-old Audrey Hale fired through doors at Covenant School, killing three children and three adults. Police officers shot Hale dead in the school.
“We’re learning to live with a part of us missing,” the pastor continued as he explained he is finding comfort in C.S Lewis’ book ‘A Grief Observed’.
“Like losing an arm, perhaps, knowing that the phantom pain of that lost arm will always be there with us, just know that from our perspective now it feels impossible to ever pretend the arm will regenerate or that it will ever feel whole this side of heaven.”
As he thanked the congregation for their support, Rev Scruggs also drew parallels between the love for him, his wife and their three other children and the women at the cross with Jesus.
“You have showed up to suffer with us, which is an acknowledgement that love under the shadow of the cross is often best expressed not with words, but in presence and tears,” he added.
In an email to The Washington Times, a spokeswoman said Rev Scruggs is “focused on his family and the grieving and healing process”.
“The church and school are focused on caring for the students, faculty, staff and families and ending the school year as well as possible,” the spokeswoman concluded.