From This Place

Twenty-four hours ago life changed. The life of the beloved community I belong to was shaken. The impossible violence we speculate and philosophize about in my theology classes came into our home. It left my SPU family and me in a swirl of emotion that continues to ebb and flow. It’s impossible to believe that this happened here. Things like this aren’t suppose to be our reality, they only happen on the news on far away campuses. The intersection I used to cross to get to class was transformed into a barricade of police cars and ambulances. The building I would encounter the study-worn faces of peers was morphed into a place of war-torn bodies fighting for life. The campus once filled with youthful zeal and professorial wisdom was turned into a place of ageless communal lamentation. Something and someone dear was taken from this place.

To the shooter. The raw emotion I feel for you is anger. Anger so heavy that it desires nothing more than for you to no longer be. It wants you to disappear from our memory, new stories, and entire our world. Not blood for blood, just simply that everything about you never was. However, this is not what you deserve or how I want to feel towards you. You deserve love, in fact it is very apparent you are desperately in need of redeeming transformational love. I believe SPU is a place capable of giving you that love. You have made enemies with an institution that boasts in a King that has a radical love for his enemies. I do not have the wisdom or authority to pretend to pronounce legal prescriptions on your actions, I have trust that the Seattle authorities will treat the violation at hand with the due consequences. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, which means that from this place will flow that same bloody wounded grace that flows from our Messiah’s cross. I’m so sorry that we live in a broken world that created the circumstances that enabled you to feel that this was okay, we pray for your redemption in the power of God’s growing Kingdom. While my instinctual anger is heavy, the force that is much more foundational to my life is the divine love that continually seeks to reshape my heart into a heart that loves and forgives you.

To our hero. You have truly lived into the title of Christian that you bear. To interject your life in between approaching death and those you care for truly is a feat worthy of praise. Our community thanks you so much for preventing additional injuries. May the peace and stillness of God’s Spirit fill you as you rest with your family during this time.

Something and someone dear to us was tragically taken from this place, and our pain and confusion are still searing. We wrestle with God here in our pain, we refuse to release God from our clutches, we cling to this Lord until we find life and blessing once again. Life will not be the same, this community will forever walk with the limp of this encounter of loss, but we will walk again. From this place will be sent individuals who have dwelt face to face with God in the valley of the shadow of death, and hopefully because of this they will be empowered to change the darkness they have encountered in this world.

Photo credit: Laura Nile

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.” (Genesis 32:24-31)

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