(405) 425-5070

From ‘Dark Knight’ to bright morning: Denver minister revamps sermon in tragedy’s aftermath

Neal Pollard

Neal Pollard, minister for the Bear Valley Church of Christ in Denver, has delayed his originally planned sermon series on the home.
Instead, Pollard plans to preach Sunday on “Getting from ‘Dark Knight’ to Bright Morning” — a response to the midnight movie theater shooting rampage that left 12 dead and 58 wounded in nearby Aurora, Colo.
On his blog Friday, Pollard reflected on the massacre:

Our community is experiencing unspeakable grief. A young man became a hardened, merciless killer overnight in our city, killing at least a dozen and injuring several dozen more. Grief and confusion abound. People are struggling for answers.
It is transparently clear that this exemplifies a symptom of sin-sickness in society, but that observation will not bring back a single victim or undo this horrific crime. What we have right now is an opportunity to share with the fearful and hurting the God of all comfort.
Paul so describes Him in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. In those few verses alone, Paul uses the word comfort 10 times. Look at the different ways Paul assures us of God’s comfort, which will help us in traumatic circumstances like these.

Kevin Campbell, a nephew of two Bear Valley church families (the Sundines and the Bevilacquas), was in the theater when the attack occurred, Pollard said. Cayla Medek, 23, who died in the shooting, was Campbell’s girlfriend, the minister said.
Of Sunday’s sermon, Pollard said:

I’ll be preaching from Hebrews 6 about the hope we have in Christ, even in the worst times. It’s an appeal to hold on to Christ, no matter what. There are three points: 1. God’s Hope Will Keep Us Diligent (vs. 11).  2. God’s Hope Will Keep Us Focused (vs. 18).  3. God’s Hope Will Keep Us Grounded (vs. 19).
I’m still working on the sermon, and we’re still seeking ways to reach out to the community.  I’ve asked members to spread the word about the special sermon, and we’re advertising it on the marquee. These are “come to us” measures, but as we’re on the other side of town that may be our best first move.
Everyone is certainly deeply affected by this, especially here in the shadow of the Columbine tragedy less than 15 years ago!

Minister feedback: Will you preach on Friday’s tragedy or otherwise reference it on Sunday? If so, what do you plan to say? Please include your home congregation, city and state in case we decide to quote you.

  • Feedback
    I am preaching a sermon Sunday simply titled, “When Bad Things Happen.” I will deal briefly with the apologetic/philosophical issues and more with our own personal responses, actual and potential. My conviction is that these kinds of events are only going to increase in number and severity until the Lords people (myself included) become radically devoted to being the hands and feet of Jesus.
    Geoff Mabe
    July, 21 2012

    No, I won’t be preaching because I’m a woman. But I certainly hope that whoever is filling our pulpit tomorrow will reference it, and do what he can to help people to deal with the reality of it in light of our Christian faith. Our children particularly, who are taught not to be afraid because God will watch over them, must have a very difficult time with events like this.
    norma hill
    July, 21 2012

    I will certainly reference it in my sermon entitled, “What do you value the most” of course the answer is the soul . If our soul is taken care of then even in tragedy we can have confidence. C.S. Lewis said, “You are a soul , you have a body”. Larry Pruitt, Northside Church of Christ, Hanceville, AL
    Larry Pruitt
    July, 21 2012

    The news invaded our happy world while my wife and I were helping in the kitchen at Camp Hunt in Upstate New York. It cannot help but invade the thoughts and words of those who preach about the power of sin and the love of the Savior. Once again we are overwhelmed, engulfed in the horror of witnessing ordinary people who turn into monsters. Once again, we must proclaim the joy of knowing the One who loves us so much that He came to dwell with such monsters.
    Arthur Barry
    July, 21 2012

    I will certainly reference it before and during the sermon. If it falls on one receptive ear or gets someone to think about our purpose in the world that we serve for our Lord then just maybe we can all go and tell and bring others to Christ. May God receive the glory.
    Mardy Gardner
    July, 21 2012

    Yes, will reference the tragedy in my lesson tomorrow. Plan to use Romans 12:9-18 and I Cor. 12:14ff to show how Christians need to comfort and encourage and be sure to include those who feel less sure and less confident and less certain of their worth to God and to fellow Christians. Everyone is important and has worth!
    Don Fischer
    July, 21 2012

    I chose to delay presentation of the sermon I had prepared in order to discuss with the congregation a lesson on Evil and the Christian’s response to it. At times like this, people have many questions about why such terrible things happen; how can a fellow-human being do such an evil thing, etc. My lesson will trace Evil to its source, which is Satan. It will also distinguish betwee the Evil committed by responsible people and those of the mentally deranged. All of this will be against the backdrop of God’s Word. It will close will be our duty in the face of Evil.
    John Waddey
    July, 21 2012

    I will not be changing my text, Luke 13:31-35, but I will be referencing the event and bringing it into my sermon. Luke 13:31-35 deals with Jesus living in a dangerous world, one in which Herod seeks to kill him and the people of Jerusalem kill prophets. Jesus responds with lament (“Jerusalem, Jerusalem “), and by going forward and not running away. He chooses to be guided by faith rather than fear. I will suggest that we should respond in the same way. When tragedy occurs we must first stop to lament and cry out to God. We must then move forward by faith and refuse to be guided by fear.
    Scott Elliott
    July, 21 2012

    Such tragedy is heart rending. While we are far removed from the theaters here announced hightened police presence and a ban on all handbags and backpacks. I am not changing my topic, “I Promised God to Love,” but will certainly reference this event and how loving others is the answer to such senseless violence. We will also be have a special prayer for the victims. Only when Christians become militant in the war against evil will we begin to see our society heal itself.
    David Baker
    July, 22 2012

    With movies of this sort being made; I wonder sometimes if it prompts those who might have an unguided mind; since playing the part of the “Joker” was involved. Until we know what triggered this young mind; we should pray for the Court to find out his problem for sure. It could have been an illness only he knew about. Without speculation however; I believe our young people who go to these movies, or any other kind of entertainment, need to be considered with any explanation possible in church or at home. It is hard to believe and understand this type of violence.
    Gerri Means
    July, 22 2012

    I find the comments helpful. I am preparing to preach in France and I know the congregation is asking the question, “Why does this evil happen?” My text is set(Psalm 51) but with your insights I will reference the shooting. God help those who are hurting, the confused and the despairing.
    Jerry Jones
    July, 22 2012

    Evil and darkness in the world is always a great opportuinty to reinforce how important it is for saints to apply Mark 16: 15-16; Rom. 1:16 by teaching all we come in contact with.
    I will reference Col. 1: 13; 2 Tim. 3:13; Jn. 3:19 in my Bible class. The greatest place of darkness a person can find themselves is spoken of in Matt. 8: 12;Jn. 8:12; 2 Pet. 2:13; Jude 6.
    We are children of the light therefore let us walk thusly. amen?
    robert brooks
    July, 22 2012

    It’s a dark day when mass murder happens anywhere and at anytime. It’s great to ‘revamp’ messages that speak to the present issues arround us and try to bring comfort. Nevertheless I thought about it, why have I not seen or heard of a ‘revamping’ of sermons that address the greatest darkness in this country, abortion?
    I don’t remembr the stats on the number of babies that are murder per day (more than 12) but each year American moms (not some nut with bombs or bullets) murder 1.5 million babies. No mass murderer can top those numbers. Just a thought.
    robert brooks
    July, 22 2012

    I will pray for each of you! I pray your sermons this week and every week, will open people’s hearts to the Lord.
    Angela Brown
    July, 22 2012

    I am preaching at the Redford Church of Christ and I am going to reference this tragedy. My intent is to stir thoughts and minds away from hurt and anger to help mode. The sermon is titled “God’s eyes” and I’m talking about seeing people the way God does. Despite all of our sins, God still sent his son to die for us because he loved us. Christians need to be leaders in situations like this. When the world wants to hate and seek revenge, we need more than ever to let our light so shine that others will see our works and glorify our father in heaven.
    Clyde Mayberry
    July, 22 2012

    Not changing text or referencing it. Although I’m sure some in the congregation will be talking about it. I mourn every day for the 4000 babies murdered by people with MD’s. So I, as a Christian, live with tragedy every day. I am thinking about preaching a sermon next week on “The Christian and Politically Correct Tragedies”.
    We live in a deranged society that allows some with MD’s to murder daily and yet we ‘cry out’ when others do it randomly. I have and will cry out to the Lord to forgive our hypocrisy as His people.
    P.S.: I pray for those who lost children in that tragedy and all tragedies every day.
    Don Neyland
    July, 22 2012

    Will not change the theme for the summer, Inviting People To the Banquet of Joy, but of course the angle an emphasis. Last night sitting in front of my house with a neighbor had ten neighbors drop by to talk and listen. “Will you preach tomorrow?” “Yes and No. I will preach, but hopefully I will get out of the way and allow God to lead His worship this week.” Our emphasis is from Marie, a believer who was in the theatre who wrote on her blog:
    “God is always good.
    Man is not.
    Don�t get the two confused.
    We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.”
    Larry Wishard
    July, 22 2012

    Yes, I will be referencing the Aurora tragedy, since it is important for the church in San Bernardino to hear that problems are far greater than what we encounter, daily. Although we struggle against violence on our streets, economic decline and the city council has just voted to declare bankruptcy, we know we are not alone:
    1. Others are also suffering and other churches are also in decline;
    2. Our Lord walks with us and will bring us to triumph, eventually.
    That is the gist of the Sunday bulletin article, entitled, “Yet Another American Tragedy.”
    Royce Bell
    July, 22 2012

    We are living in a time when peoples senses are being dulled with pornography and violence, there are all sorts of perversions being promoted. Our society through liberal philosophy becomes more like Sodom and Gomorrah each day. Surely some people will be snap at seeing such? On our roads we often witness selfish behaviour which too often kills, our hospitals murder through abortion, we live in a greedy uncaring society and should expect such atrocities. As Christians we have a wonderful opportunity to reach out and find those with problems. This murderer is described as a loner, it is a shame there are so few Christians who can share the love of Christ, indeed the labourers are few. Yes, this was mentioned in my sermon this morning in England.
    Keith Sisman
    July, 22 2012

    Preached this morning from Ephesians 2:2, Prince of the power of the air. Read and referenced scriptures about the god of this world (Satan). Used 1 Corinthians 5:9,10 that we cannot escape people of this sort but we can arm ourselves….Ephesians 6:10-20….Putting on the whole armor of God
    Sonny Owens
    July, 22 2012

    One of the elders and I were to give feedback on mission trip to Honduras. The elder was to show slides of the trip and I chose to give background on red/white body cells to show how our very DNA is to come to the aid of humanity in trouble around the globe, i.e., Dr. Paul Brand (Orthopedic Surgeon, now deceased who worked with Lepers in India). This is a clear definition of how each Christian (and church) should seek to relieve suffering here.
    We kept the theme but I talked briefly about the fact folks in the theatre were there to watch killing, death and dying at the hands of darkness. To this I talked about war games videos and how we hand our kids (an older) over to darkness. Are we surprised. Bad things happen to people because of darkness and the good cells come to their aid. I then tied this to mission efforts local and distant.
    Yale Canfield
    July, 22 2012

    As it happened I was to be preaching on the omnipotence of God, which I thought was the ideal time to deal during the second half of the sermon with “Why does God not intervene to put a stop to all atrocities?”
    Randy Daw
    July, 22 2012

    As a high school bible teacher and as song leader, I planned content around these events. One of our elders preached today, on forgiveness (planned weeks ago, but very applicable to current events).
    Rudy Schellekens
    July, 22 2012

    We had a guest speaker Sunday morning, but Sunday night my sermon was “Christians Have An Edge.” Mark 4:35-41 when they asked Jesus if he cared, He truly responded.
    Ken Campbell
    July, 23 2012

    I did preach last Sunday on the Subject of hope. Our world seems to be turning upside down. Only God can help. Our prayers are with the people and possibly brethren who have suffered loss at the hands of one who obviously is filled with a demonic spirit. Jesus said, “You shall know a tree by the fruit it bears”. I do not subscribe to the idea or concept that those who carry out such acts of violence are just sick It is an easy way to view such, but I, like Dr. Karl Meninger a few years ago who wrote,and asked the question, “Whatever became of sin.” When such tragic events occur, we need to realize that God continues to provide hope. The hope to which I have reference, is that of eternal hope. Paul said, “If in this life we only have hope, we are of all men most miserable”. My hope rests on Jesus the solid Rock of ages.
    Dan Manuel
    Crockett Rd. Church of Christ
    Palestine, Texas
    Dan Manuel
    July, 23 2012

    I had not heard of the tragedy in Colorado, when I led Worship Service this past Sunday,But Others had,Telling me after-words that they appreciated the words and Songs I led. Eph 6:10 and following. “Put on the Full Armor of God” because this World Is full of Evil and we need to be able to Stand against it. We sang “The battle belongs to the lord” Stand Up For Jesus, Faith Is The Victory, And One Of The Most Powerful Songs I Know- “IT IS Finished” (The Battle IS OVER) Jesus Has Defeated Satan and His Evil, He Gave us Hope For Eternal Salvation When He Took the Sins Of The World And Nailed them To the Cross, We Just Have To Chose Whether We are Going to Live In Darkness, or Follow Him and Walk In The Light. Metro Church of Christ, Gresham, OR
    Phillip Clark
    July, 25 2012

    I referrenced it last Sunday in a sermon series “Finding Happiness & Hope in Christ” delivered in a gospel meeting in Tunica, MS. that was pre-planned before the incident. But this Sunday I’m focusing on it more in a series I’ve been preaching on “How to Find Happiness in Hard Times” based on the 7 beatitudes of the book of Revelation. I’m dealing with the 3rd beatitude in 16:15 & calling it How to Gain Happiness in Harmageddon. Staying awake & keeping clothed in the garments of Christ’s righteousness is the way to happily remain ready for the return of christ, realizing that he is in control of everything that happens & will right all wrongs at his coming again in the Judgement of the last Day. I try to keep relevant as I can even at 66 and having preached for the last 12 years for the Lake Harbour Drive church of Christ in Ridgeland, MS.
    John Pigg
    July, 25 2012

Filed under: Breaking News News Extras Reader Feedback

Don’t miss out on more stories like this.

Subscribe today to receive more inspiring articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.

Did you enjoy this article?

Your donation helps us not only keep our quality of journalism high, but helps us continue to reach more people in the Churches of Christ community.

Personal Info

Dedicate this Donation

In Honor/Memory of Details

Card Notification Details

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.
Billing Details

Donation Total: $3 One Time