The shots were fired right before we left the church.
Some members of the congregation actually heard the gunfire from across the street.
Suddenly the night was filled with the wail of sirens, a police chopper circling overhead,
and Christmas carols.
We walked around the block, our strange eclectic crew, stopping at the houses of neighbors to sing, our faces bathed in the flashing blue-red glow of police lights.
Children ran ahead to leave small gift bags on porches or in the hands of grateful listeners. Wishing someone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year took on new meaning in the light of what was occurring around us.
“Good tidings we bring to you and your kin.” I passed a young man on a cellphone and overheard him say, “I’m just checking in to see if you’re all right.” Will one of these houses receive a knock on the door later tonight with some not-so-glad tidings?
Our final stop is the liquor store on the corner right beside the church. Up the steps go the children while we start another song. The woman who receives the bag is deeply touched and stands there listening, her hand over her heart.
Solutions to violence and neighborhood problems can be debated ad nauseum. But one thing I believe to be true.
Whatever suffering occurs around us, we as believers are to be in the midst of it. Giving witness to the coming of something new, a world of hope and peace.
And when the noise of violence and sorrow threatens to drown out the incarnate Word of God, we raise our voices to the tear-filled night and sing all the louder.