“Did you hear about “_______?,” she was the girl in the news who the police thought was having a drug overdose but upon arrival at the hospital, it was discovered that she had been shot in the abdomen….and she died.”
That’s hard news to hear right before you preach on Sunday.
I knew this young woman from a distance.
I’ve watched her live her life in our neighborhood.
We shared a few meals when we hosted Tuesday night community dinners.
From my porch, I’ve watched her stroll down the sidewalk with her boyfriends.
Watched her waddle down the sidewalk when she was pregnant.
Watched her push her baby stroller.
I watched her thin out.
Then she was gone.
Now she’s dead.
I preached my sermon with more pain and passion, knowing that this is one of the reasons we moved into this neighborhood to work, worship and witness. It’s so easy to skim over the news and get callous to all the crime and violence that accompanies the drug life. I didn’t even read the full news article this week, since such topics have become so ‘normal’ these days. It’s easy to not care or reduce someone’s kid to an addict, a criminal or a ‘social problem.’ But when you know them, it’s not a new story. It becomes part of your story.
My heart is heavy today, weighed down with the sadness and the seriousness of the call to rededicate myself to reach young people and families with the good news of the Gospel. The message of who Jesus was, what he did on the cross and how that sacrifice made the way clear for me to experience the forgiveness and restoration of relationship with God, changed my violent, drugged up life at 14 years old, and it’s still changing lives.
In the same service, I hugged another 14-year-old girl who showed up from our neighborhood. She hasn’t been around for a long time, seeing her come with her little sister drove home the point that being mission minded in this neighborhood matters.
Being a kind neighbor is valuable.
Feeding people is important.
Praying for the neighborhood is essential.
But sharing the Gospel of Jesus with young people matters the most and for some it could be life or death.
I am Frederick Christian Blauer IV, but I go by Eric, it sounds less like a megalomaniac but still hints at my Scandinavian destiny of coastal conquest and ultimate rule. I have accumulated a fair number of titles: son, brother, husband, father, pastor, writer, artist and a few other more colorful titles by my fanged fans. I am a lover of story be it heard, read or watched in all beauty, gory or glory. I write and speak as an exorcist or poltergeist, splashing holy water, spilling wine and breaking bread between the apocalypse and a sleeping baby. I am possessed by too many words and they get driven out like wild pigs and into the waters of my blog at www.fcb4.tumblr.com. I work as a pastor at Jacob's Well Church (www.jacobswellspokane.com) across the tracks on 'that' side of town. I follow Christ in East Central Spokane among saints, sinners, angels, demons, crime, condoms, chaos, beauty, goodness and powerful weakness. I have more questions than answers, grey hairs than brown, fat than muscle, fire than fireplace and experience more love from my wife, family and friends than a man should be blessed with in one lifetime.
The fellow was the stuff of epic: brilliant physicist, struck down by ALS Lou Gehrig’s disease, reduced to a contorted figure in an electric wheelchair ... but not struck down, as his work continued, his fame grew, his synthesizer “voice” he began to use in the 1980s as instantly recognizable today as any singer or movie star.