You are the owner of this page.
D4 D4
YODER: Words fail following church shooting in Texas

“Oh, my. Oh, my.”

I remember hearing that phrase when I was very little. One of the great-grandmothers used to say it. Or maybe it was a neighbor. It could have been more than one person. All I know for sure is that it’s a phrase used when words simply escape and disappear. Something so unthinkable happens that the person responding can’t find any words that accurately describe their surprise and shock.

That’s what I say to myself when I hear of yet another shooting. The horrific shooting in the Baptist Church in Southerland Springs, Texas, during church services last Sunday. I sadly shake my head and hear myself saying those very words over and over.

“Oh, my. Oh, my.”

The story slowly unfolds as the stories of those affected unfold. Real people with real lives who are loved by real people who are grieving unthinkable, unimaginable loss.

And I remember another time. I’m a little girl who walks over to the National Guard Armory after school to practice the piano. My dad works there. At the end of the day, after many sour notes have been beaten out of the old upright piano, I sweep the drill floor for dad. Then we go outside. I help him gladly, knowing what to do because I’ve done it so many times before.

I walk past the picture of Captain John Paul Jones in the hallway. The British asked him to surrender during the American Revolution. He answered, “I have not yet begun to fight.”

Next to him is Nathan Hale. His last words spoken on this earth were, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Then the British hanged him for spying.

Oh, my. Oh, my.

We walk past more old pictures. More brave words spoken during tough times. Outside, Dad lowers the flag, never allowing it to touch the ground. We solemnly, reverently, fold the symbol of our country using proper flag folding technique. I think of the people in the pictures who sacrificed so much for our freedom.

Dad takes the folded flag and puts it in a safe place indoors. All seems right with the world. Not perfect, but right. It was a time when we learned right from wrong. From our parents. From our Sunday School teachers. From the Bible.

The lessons of faith learned so long ago were learned in little rooms in a little church not unlike the one in Southerland Springs. With good people not unlike the ones who belong to that beautiful Texas church. Good people not unlike the ones who were murdered in Texas while they were in the middle of worshiping our Lord.

Oh, my. Oh, my.

Words escape me. I think of Lazarus. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha. They were his home away from home. They were his beloved friends. Lazarus dies. The sisters are grief-stricken. Even though Jesus knows how this story will unfold, he’s still moved to tears with compassion for their grief. He knows the end of the story, yet his love causes him to weep.

Jesus calls Lazarus by name to come forth. He calls him out of the dark tomb into the light. He does the same with us. He calls each one of us out of the darkness of this world into his beautiful light of truth, of forgiveness, of love, of eternal life.

Jesus tells others to remove Lazarus’ grave clothes. He does the same with us. Throw off all that hinders us in this life. Walk freely towards our Savior, Jesus Christ. Don’t let anything or anyone get in the way.

Many years ago in a little Sunday School room in a humble church in a small town I learned that there’s only one way to Heaven and that’s through the one who died on the cross for my sins and for your sins, Jesus, the Son of God. He also died for the sins of those who do not believe in him. And for the sins of those who murder others.

No matter what unfolds in this life, that truth is still true.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25).

Oh, my. Oh, my.

Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at

Joe Sutter, The Messenger via AP 

The Rev. Dan Prochaska plays for a group of Questers in what was once the sanctuary of this church. Prochaska preaches at By the Grace of God Church in Barnum and lives at the parsonage. He's opened up the building to many church members and has hosted multiple events there.

Area church news

English toffee

St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 1200 Douglas St., is taking orders for its English toffee. A 4-ounce box is $6 and an 8-ounce box is $12. Call the church office to place your order at 712-258-0141. Sales will continue until Dec. 19.

Bible study

Redeemer Lutheran Church invites the Sioux City community to a special Bible Study presentation from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. Sunday in the parish hall. Wayne and Debbie Sadler will present a "Storm Chasers" video of the October Woodbury tornadoes of 2013. The storm chasers were in their area of 1618 Lee Avenue in Correctionville, Iowa. The Sadlers will talk about how this experience has changed their lives. Coffee and sweet rolls will be served.

Craft fair

Immanuel Lutheran Church, 315 Hamilton Blvd., will host its Christmas Festival Craft Fair and Bake Sale from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. There will be many vendors, craft items and baked items. Lunch items will be available. Free admission, handicapped accessible.


Dakota City United Methodist Church, 1523 Locust St., will host its Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 18. A free-will offering will be accepted. Everyone is welcome.