and you will not listen?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see wrongdoing
and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4 So the law becomes slack
and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous—
therefore judgment comes forth perverted.
O Lord my God, my Holy One?
You[b] shall not die.
13 Your eyes are too pure to behold evil,
and you cannot look on wrongdoing;
why do you look on the treacherous,
and are silent when the wicked swallow
those more righteous than they?
I will stand at my watchpost,
and station myself on the rampart;
I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,
and what he[d] will answer concerning my complaint.
2 Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so that a runner may read it.
3 For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.
4 Look at the proud!
Their spirit is not right in them,
but the righteous live by their faith.
And to tell God that, like the prophet, we are watching. And waiting.
When I grew up, I said, I heard a lot about God watching me; but that the prophet Habakkuk gives us permission to say to God that we are watching him, waiting for him to act, listening for him to speak, to answer our complaint about violence and destruction.
Like Mario’s children, who will love him without seeing him or enjoying his presence.
But you will tell them the stories, I said to the assembled. Because, while I didn’t know him at all, you did. Enough to remember and share.
I knew him not at all; you knew him well; but Jesus knew him even better…
Mario was created in the image of God and Jesus died to redeem him, and made him and the rest of us promises that we expect for him even as we claim them for ourselves…
Then I read John 14, and I Thessalonians 4:13.
Back up: several people stood to speak. One young man in particular remains fresh to my memory. He said basically (and with this vocabulary), “We got to stop this shit.” He noted that Mario was the third of their friends they have buried this year. That this is their world and they have to change it. Something like that. That it can’t go on.
I “met” the two-month old who was the fourth of his four children (three daughters and a boy).
Throughout the service there was weeping and wailing and a person or two fell out. At the end, Mario’s mother (who works at HLUMC and is the reason I was there), lost it entirely. She had been stoic till then. People kissed the casket and stomped the ground as if running in place. Others took walks or sat down to bury their heads in their hands. There were un-embarrassed tears on the faces of many young men who, you know, have seen and experienced more than most of us can imagine.
I wondered whether the father was crying just for Mario, or for himself, or for the fact that his son was born into a context where gun violence is expected and “normal.” I wondered if the father feared there was no escape for any of them—for any of them there. And I prayed, especially, for that little boy, and for Mario’s children—for whom there might not be.
I had been worried, early in the discussions regarding the service for this young man, whether I (or our sanctuary) would be in any kind of danger. Who knew but what the murder was drug or gang related. The CMPD assured us, no.
Today, at Oaklawn, I felt like I was the safest person there. That the young men, especially, are the ones in terrible danger. And will remain so till God answers our complaint.