When it all gets real
This morning I had the privilege of being invited into a group that goes to the scene of homicides in Denver to do what is called a Moment of Blessing. It is a liturgy about reclaiming peace and hope in a place of violence and despair. If I have ever been at the site of a homicide before I don’t remember it, and today was a powerful experience. Here is an article about the woman killed at the place we visited today. I was impacted by a lot of things today, and probably more than I realize right now, but here are a few.
- When you’re confronted with the extreme violence, hatred and evil possible in our world you are confronted with how much you believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. One part of the liturgy we went through said, “Come, Spirit, to this place. As we sprinkle this water, come Spirit, and redeem this space and people from the violence and death that has just occurred here.” Being there confronted me with the question, do I believe that the Spirit can redeem people and places filled with violence and hatred.
- You can’t categorize people as easily as we’d like to. If you look at the article from the Denver Post you’ll see this young woman was convicted in an arson and was a gang member. You also read that she was raising her two young sisters and going to school at Metro State. What you don’t see in the article is the picture of the place she was killed. It is filled with candles, stuffed animals, and probably a hundred messages of love to her. We all are a mixture of sin and evil and good and love. Following Christ is about letting the Spirit transform the evil in us, it is not about being better than anyone else. We are all like her in some way. Reading an article in a paper it is easy to stereotype someone–being there made it so much harder.
- One of the guys there this morning spoke for a minute or two and talked about the burden the shooters will now carry. I wish I had it just as he said it, but he talked about adding this to their list of things that would bring guilt, shame, hiding, and unworthiness before God and others. This view is not in opposition to justice, but puts flesh to Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies. The way of Christ is so challenging and praying for people who have just murdered someone must be among the most difficult.
- We all need to engage things that take us out of our routine and comfort-zone. This was the most spiritually forming thing that’s happened to me in a long time and I think a lot of that was that it stretched and pushed me in ways I haven’t been before.
I’ll end this post with the benediction I was able to read this morning in that place.
Beloved of God, go from this place in love. Go from this place in peace. Return no one evil for evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted. Support the weak. Love one another as God loves you. As this is home to many of us, it is also home to God. God blesses both this space and us. Let’s go in peace.