For some time now, I have been preparing for a vacation that will begin next week; I will be traveling to Turkey, a country that shares a borer with war-torn Syria.
Some friends, colleagues, and family members have expressed concern about the safety of traveling to that part of the world during this time of uncertainty and violence, especially amid the enormous challenges of the refugee situation that has been unfolding in the Middle East and throughout Europe. I have been calm through it all, and have at times told people that living in this city of Chicago has its own dangers and violence. I tasted that this morning and are just a little more than shaken up by what occurred.
After my "spin" class at the gym, I was making my way to work, westward along one of our expressways, "The Eisenhower," which was anything but an "express" way this morning. So I exited, which I often do when traffic is backed up, and took a surface street, Lake Street, westward toward our office. I drove by a huge cordoned off area where a lagoon is being drained because in the last few days the dismembered body of a child has been discovered in the waters. The traffic was very heavy and I was stopped for about fifteen minutes, my mind wandering, thinking about the day's work ahead.
Suddenly, I heard a loud banging sound; it was a kid running through the traffic; as he passed by my car, he pounded on the hood of my car, running past me and between the cars in the stopped traffic. Within seconds, an unmarked police van pulled onto the sidewalk and a heavily armed Chicago police officer jumped out of the car and began a foot chase toward the young man. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the officer chasing the kid. Before I knew it, I heard "pop, pop," gunfire erupting somewhere in the congested area behind me. I wasn't sure who fired those shots.
The kid who was running could not have been any more than fifteen or sixteen years old. Then the traffic ahead cleared and we all drove onto our destinations.
I prayed that all were safe and that the police apprehended the kid without any injuries being incurred.
I thought about the people living in these very unsafe neighborhoods in my city, people who face this kind of violence nearly every day of their lives.
I wondered how a young man, this kid, could have spiraled into whatever caused this scene this morning.
I was deeply concerned for the police officer who was there "to serve and protect" people like me and everyone else in the area, risking his own safety and life in the process.
What is the Christian response to violence?
I sit here now at my desk, asking God this question. And my mind and heart turn to the Lord Jesus, who was the victim of violence, torture, and capital punishment.
you who were left with no protection as you climbed Calvary's hill,
protect those who risk their lives to protect us.
You who were nailed to a cross,
help lift the burdens of those trapped in neighborhoods where that cross appears every day.
You who showed mercy to the repentant sinner,
somehow enter the heart of that young man and turn him around.
You who healed the man who was born blind,
lift the blindness of those who lead us, to move toward establishing lasting peace.
You who calmed the seas,
calm the sea of violence that touched me this morning and touches people every day.
You who were raised from the dead,
raise those who suffer to new life in you.
Come quickly to our aid. Amen.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.