Because this is my blog and it is, in fact, All About Me, I’m going to give a very egocentric view of this next topic, a topic that isn’t in fact, about ME at all. But I’m here and I am part of this community.
Last Wednesday a woman in our congregation was killed in a home invasion. I was on Session with her. She was kind. Always. She used to wait in her car after Session meetings and watch as the RevDoc locked up until she was safely in her car and on the way home. I think there’s a tinge of irony there. There have been plenty of deaths in the church since we’ve been here; like many mainline downtown churches, we skew old. This is the first one where I had dinner with the woman–we usually have dinner before Session meetings; I had helped cook this last one–two weeks before she died. She complimented my cooking and we chatted. In the intervening weeks, she had been in the hospital with heart issues, so when the email came, I read the first sentence and figured the planned heart surgery was coming just too late. And then I read the next sentence. I was stunned. I still am. We live in the poorest large city in the U.S. I know there’s violence here. This is, in fact, the second of our congregation members in two years to be killed violently in her home. The difference is, I knew this one. (Good thing God knows us all by name.) There was, for me, an unreality about the other one. This was all too real. The RevDoc opened the chapel and kept vigil on Thursday. The regular worship service yesterday acknowledged the tragedy, the fear it engenders, the grief. The prayers of the people were written based on prayers people left in the chapel on Thursday. We sang “A Mighty Fortress,” a favorite hymn of this woman who had been a young woman in this church, daughter of the pastor in the fifties and sixties. It was Stewardship Sunday, and we had a guest preacher. A member of the broader community, pastor/director of the nearby Lutheran Mission, he also did a beautiful job of incorporating the tragedy, and all the tragedies of this city, into his message. It was Good and Right. And it remains Sad. (Here is an article from the local paper.)