Jackson Vigil Reflection

In the dusk of a September 11th Southern sky, with a “WHEN WOULD JESUS KILL” sign in my hands and a burning candle in my right hand, I led a procession of twenty twinkling lights from Jackson-Madison County General Hospital to Conger Park in Jackson, Tennessee. Our candlelight vigil occurs in the twilight of the execution of Daryl Holton, a mentally ill veteran who killed his four children in 1997, whose execution by electrocution is scheduled for 1:00 a.m. on September 12th., which will occur in 33 minutes from the writing of this sentence.

The end of a death sentence. As we walked from the hospital to the park in a symbolic gesture of healing for a world who is lost in the darkness of its violence, I could feel the slowness of the walk as if death was surrounding us. Yet, the flickering lights of these twenty people, who stepped out of the crowd of silent complicity, was a witness to the truth that love overcomes indifference. The end draws near.

We walked, talked, sang, and prayed. In the distance the roar of the rescue helicopter rose as it lifted and flew from its hospital landing pad. Technology can save and it can destroy. A man is about to be strapped down to a chair with pads that will receive the shock of his life.

Where is the Christian protest of Christians and the Church’s silence to the screams of this man for help? Why does this man choose this form of execution? O Death, where is thy sting! Right here screams the demon-possessed man. My name is Legion.

Only Jesus can cast out the demons who form the state of the union called Legion. When will we listen to him and obey his command to love our enemies?

Daryl Holton believes he deserves to die. So did a thief on the cross.

We all are thieves who take life from others. But we need to remember the words of the One who gives life: “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”

Daryl Holton has the possibility of peace – an eternal peace. We do, too.
We can believe in the mercy and forgiveness of Him who was executed by the people. We can have peace in the eternal life sentence he gives: “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”

In just a couple of minutes, Daryl Holton’s death sentence ends and his life sentence begins the dawning of a New Day!

To God be the glory! Hallelujah!


The Peace of Christ be with you,

Elbon Kilpatrick
Jackson, Tennessee

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