As family members and some classmates quietly wept, the pastor at the funeral of 16-year-old Dalton Williams of Pierre turned to the words of the ancient prophet Isaiah and the Apostle John to make sense of the tragedy.
Pastor Brad Urbach spoke to a packed sanctuary Saturday at Faith Lutheran Church in Pierre as hundreds of family, friends and neighbors gathered to pay respects to Dalton. He was fatally shot Dec. 18 after what court documents say began as a quarrel between two other teens about a past paintball incident.
One of those teens, Braiden McCahren of Pierre, faces first-degree murder charges in connection with the death.
“Though we hurt today — 16 is too early — we also have a hope today that transcends this moment,” Urbach said.
Urbach said the violence that took Dalton’s life is an old, old problem.
“We live in a dark culture. Some people believe it to be a culture of absolute violence,” Urbach said. “But that was identified to us, this culture of darkness, long ago. Isaiah — 700 years before Jesus, 2,700 years before us — said, ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.’
Urbach said the followers of Jesus, such as John the Apostle, understood Jesus to be that light that would confront the darkness.
“John says these words about Jesus, ‘In Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that was made, in Him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness.’ So we begin to find something about God’s solution for our lives,” Urbach said.
The solution is still the same, Urbach said — the Christ child born in Bethlehem whom Christians celebrate in the coming week at Christmas.
“God wanted to do something about the darkness in which our culture lives,” Urbach said. “God sought to bring light, to bring a solution to humankind’s situation.”
Urbach urged people to come to Bethlehem again this Christmas and share in the wonder and mystery of Christ, who was crucified and rose again.
“The hope of the resurrection, that is ours today,” Urbach said. “This we believe, that on the last day, by the life-giving voice of Jesus Christ, Dalton Williams will be raised from death. He will have a new body that will never perish, that which was mortal will be immortal, that which was perishable shall be imperishable.”