The message delivered at Saddleback Church on Saturday night was eerily prophetic for Pastor Rick Warren, who ceded the microphone to his brother-in-law.
Tom Holladay, the church’s teaching pastor, delivered the news to those in attendance that the youngest son of Warren and his wife, Kay, had died “earlier this week, and they are facing that together, walking through that together."
Holladay said he could tell by the audience reaction that some had not received Warren’s email to the congregation and were learning about Matthew Warren's death for the first time.
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“Your support, your encouragement, your being here means a lot to us,” Holladay said. “We’re a family, and we’re going to walk through this together. What are we going to do tonight? We’re going to pray together for them, we’re going to worship together, we’re going to look to the God who can give us hope in any circumstance, we’re going to look together at what God’s word has to say about hope, and we’re going to cling together and realize that in God we can find strength that we can find nowhere else.”
Holladay also shared a story that Warren’s absence on the stage had been determined even before Matthew’s death Friday morning from a self-inflicted shotgun wound.
“Pastor Rick gave me a call and said he’d been to the doctor and discovered he has double pneumonia,” Holladay said, joking that Warren “often has something like that happen after preaching 8 million Easter services and hugging everyone during those services.
“And so he said—and this was before he heard about Matthew and his death—‘I’d like you to speak this weekend, I’m not going to be able to, and there’s a message I’ve had on my mind that I’d like you to share with the church. It’s a message based on a little book I’ve been reading, and the title of the book is How to Survive The Worst Day of Your Life.‘
“We have a pastor who is spiritually sensitive, who’s listening to the Lord and even before he knew how much he would need it and we would need it, he said this is the message to pass along, so this is the message I’m going to pass along to you.”
After a song at the conclusion of the 40-minute message, and acknowledging the sanctuary was filled with others hurting as well, Holladay left the congregants with a final message and some insight into the comfort the Warrens are taking from the outpouring of thoughts and prayers.
“You know that your prayers for Rick and Kay and everybody—I’ve said it two or three times and I’ll say it again—they’re felt more deeply than you can possibly imagine,” Holladay said, “so you just keep praying.”
TELL US IN THE COMMENTS: What message would you like to share with Rick and Kay Warren, their family and those touched by Matthew's life?