Can Unity Come Through Grief?

Last week, a young man was shot to death right across the street from us. The murder took place in broad daylight, right in front of a Catholic church.

This hit pretty close to home. Literally. You could look out our front window and see the murder scene, right in front of a statue of the virgin Mary. It was pretty traumatic for our family.

We were glad when we learned that there would be an ecumenical prayer service at the church, to lift up the family of the victim, and to gather as God’s people in the midst of tragedy.

The worship service was deeply moving. Both the music and the silence were powerful, and I was struck to heart by the words delivered by the mother of the young man who lost his life just a week ago.

In the face of this tragic loss in our community, we gathered from different denominations and backgrounds – Catholic, Protestant, and at least one Jewish friend that we’re aware of. We sang, There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain.

With tears in my eyes, I got a better sense of what the power of Jesus really looks like. I saw his people gathered in his broken body and living spirit. I saw a community coming together from across tribes and denominations, brought together by the broken peace of our neighborhood. I witnessed God’s power made perfect in weakness.

The Holy Spirit came descended on us, meeting us in our sorrow and anxiety. For a moment in time, we were undeniably one body in Jesus together. We got a fresh glimpse of what the body of Christ could look like, breaking down barriers of race and denomination. I saw again the dynamic potential of the church to be a force for justice and peace, rooted in the cross of Jesus. Something is moving.

Whatever this thing is, I want to be part of it. Whatever God is up to, I want him to send me.

I hear the chains falling.

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