golden hill

Living a Life of Hope in World of Violence

In recent days, violent acts have seemed to pervade my reality.  I think of the Pakistani Governor who was killed and my friend who is currently living/serving among that population.  I think of the two people that were killed at the checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank and our friends who cross through those checkpoints every day as they serve the youth of the region.  I think of the tragedy in Arizona.  Finally, I think of my neighborhood that has endured two murders and one stabbing in the past week.

These incidents have the potential to further breed a culture of fear and anxiety that puts us in a posture of defense and removes us from the redemptive vision God has for humanity.  Thankfully we have a hope. It is a hope rooted in the life of Jesus.  He did not run from violence, instead he embedded himself right in the middle of it.

Lord, may your Spirit lead us away from fear and into your Shalom (peace, wholeness, salvation).  A peace that not only physically slows violence, but a peace that pervades our being so we can be salt and light in the midst of such violence.

This makes me think of St. Patrick.  He was the first (I believe!) missionary to extend past the Roman Empire and step into one of the most fierce, violent and fear driven people groups on the planet.  He stepped forward in faith that the Jesus he chose to follow and share was one that called him to move into the places others weren’t willing to go.  Here is a portion of one of his timely prayers:

  • Be Christ this day my strong protector:
  • Against poison and burning
  • Against drowning and wounding,
  • through reward wide and plenty . . .

  • Christ beside me, Christ before me;
  • Christ behind me, Christ within me;
  • Christ beneath me, Christ above me;
  • Christ to right of me, Christ to left of me;
  • Christ in my lying, my sitting, my rising;
  • Christ in heart of all who know me,
  • Christ on tongue of all who meet me,
  • Christ in eye of all who see me,
  • Christ in ear of all who hear me.

Life in a Neighborhood Where People Get Shot

Moments after posting my last blog discussing the symptoms of a system that promotes a false ideal, I heard that two men where murdered a few blocks from my house.  Those of us that have intentionally moved to Golden Hill to be the presence of Jesus to this community know its history and the violence that is still active here.  With that said, even we can become insulated from its reality.  We ALL walk these streets everyday, it is our home and the place we are raising our children. One of our NieuCommunities staff, Jon Hall, reflected honestly and beautifully on our role in this neighborhood when he wrote this email to a group of us the day after the shooting:

Some of you may know that last night there were two men, a father and son, shot and killed at 30th and C streets. Last night I saw the police lights flashing up my street as they blocked off the stretch of 30th, between B and C. It’s not uncommon for stuff to happen there, so I wasn’t really alarmed. As I went outside to see what was up, I ended up in a great conversation with my neighbor, Mike. I had no idea the tragedy that had unfolded a block away.

This morning, I read a blog post by Jim Wallis in reference to the shooting the other day of Gabrielle Giffords, a congresswoman out of Arizona. Wallis knew Ms. Giffords personally, and asks his readers, as Christians and members of the same national community, “What is our role in this?”

He goes on…

“A central calling for Christians is to be peacemakers. Peace, we understand, is not simply the absence of current conflict, but the presence of a just community. In the midst of tragedy and violence, I believe this means every Christian must ask themselves: “How am I responsible?” What more can we do to bring peace to this world as the Prince of Peace has called us to do? What are the situations and environments that allow this kind of hate and violence to grow? How can I not only stop conflict, but also be a part of bringing about a just community that displays the positive presence of peace?

Wallis references that, when things like this happen in your own neighborhood, it takes on a different reality. I know what he means. Rob posted today on Facebook a prayer that, in light of this murder in GH, we can make a difference. Good thoughts for us to consider, for sure.

I walk that stretch of 30th often, usually with Rover in tow (or him leading me, more accurately). I know many of you often walk the streets of Golden Hill as well, and the reality that we live in a neighborhood where things like this can happen can be sobering.

While I haven’t seen any media reports that say that this is gang related, I have had a few recent encounters with groups of guys that fit the appearance of gang members, including a bit of a creepy encounter 2 weeks at 30th and C. It’s given me a heightened sense of the reality that we live in a neighborhood that isn’t the picture of safety and comfort, yet is a neighborhood that I belong to, and it to me. And it’s made me wonder, as Wallis asks, “What is our role in this?”

Here’s the Wallis post:

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