In the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago, Sherman Scullark, a 32-year-old gang member was tired of the violence and decided to risk doing something about it. He walked up to his foes unarmed and got straight to the point: he was tired of the killing, the hatred, the loss of life.
Much to his surprise, his rival gang members were, too. They talked out their differences right on the spot and less than 24 hours later, peace emerged in the Pullman neighborhood.
Later, Scullark asked the neighborhood police officer to connect him with local community development organizations. He wanted a park in which kids could play, and eight months later - with hands-on assistance from members of both gangs - the neighborhood had a new playground.
Scullark said, "Hands that had once aimed guns at other people grasped the handles of wheelbarrows. Some carried mulch or poured concrete, while others painted sidewalks and playground equipment."[i] It's a ray of hope in an all too dark world.
I wonder if those two gangs - surprising as this might be -- have something to teach us. Clearly, the church doesn't belong to one gang, or kind of people, pitted against another. But we do have differences - often times vigorous - and are more reluctant than we might be to risk for peace.
Yet I wonder if this might be a good time for us to "know the things that make for peace," the practices, assumptions, and perspectives that actually lead to peace. I wonder if it's time to cross-examine even some of our precious national and political assumptions in light of Christian faith, and then let the self-sacrificing, death-conquering, life-bringing way of Christ guide the way we vote, interact, and respond to each other.
If a gang member in Chicago could do it, perhaps we can, too. In the wake of the Tree of Life massacre (a paradoxical phrase), a high school killing in Charlotte, and an election cycle filled with vitriol and hate speech, perhaps we can walk up to our perceived enemy unarmed and get to the point.
This weekend in worship, we'll give thanks for the 'saints' in our lives who taught us about life and faith, especially the harder dimensions of faith. The 11 a.m. traditional service will enjoy a moving presentation of
Requiem for the Living
by Dan Forrest with strings and additional instruments. All services will partake in communion and a chance to remember our 'saints.' Our scripture passage can be found here.
With prayers for our world and thanks for you,
August 17, 2018 cnn.com