Monthly Archives: May 2006

North side violence

After growing up in the suburbs, Jen and I moved into North Minneapolis almost a year ago. It’s amazing how fast your perspective can change. I grew up only being afraid of the city. Most of what I knew of it were from quick trips to a Twins game or seeing the nightly murder report on the evening news. It’s alarming to think of how detatched I was from this part of our community. There could have been a wall between us.

Part of me hesitates to write the following since I hate to reinforce people’s misconceptions, generalizations, and fear of Minneapolis. But nevertheless, the honest truth is that we have a horrific problem and we need everyone’s help.

Last night Jen and I attended a Peace Rally organized by the Peace Foundation (a North Minneapolis group working to end domestic violence in this part of the city). The event was sponsored by Sanctuary Covenant Church, Church of the Open Door, St. Phillip’s and various others.

We began the evening by stretching out our group of 1500 people along 26th Avenue all the way from Lyndale to Penn (26th Ave has a history of terrible violence). It was a great time to meet others in the community, enjoy the weather, and dream of peace on the North side. Next we rallied together under a makeshift bandshell and listen to various speakers, spoken word poetry, and watched a couple of dance groups perform.

The event began to die down and most people (adults especially) had already left, some kids started throwing water bottles into the air above the crowd. From what I saw and heard, one of the volunteer security gaurds tried to stop them and that started a fight that moved like a mob down the block.

As we rallied for peace last night, someone pulled out a gun and shot a teenager in the back (the teen is at North Memorial and is expected to survive). No suspects are in custody, no weapon has been recovered. (Read story)

It was a long walk back to our car last night. Reality set in a bit. That was the closest I have ever been to a violent crime. A teenager (13? 14? 17?) was almost killed. You could feel evil in the air. We have a big problem and a long road ahead. So brace yourself, I’m going to go on a rant…..

I feel like most people play the blame game when we talk about crime in the city. “It’s the church’s problem,” or “the governments problem” or “the police’s problem”. And many people who make these comments are so detached from the problem that they don’t even know what they’re talking about.

I think we need ownership. All of us need to own the problem.

And we need the Kingdom of God. Sometimes this can be a cop out. We say that only God can change things and then we sit and watch for it to happen. I think that adding more cops will push the crime to the suburbs (or overload the overloaded jails). I think that throwing government money at the city will make things look nice but won’t really change anything.

We need the Kingdom. If our faith doesn’t call us to action, then it’s not faith at all. Even in living on the north side, I can let myself become detached and I am as guilty as anyone else (so moving here isn’t necessarily the answer). But if you watch the news or read this story, and don’t feel the pain of the violence or get angry for justice, then I wonder if you have a pulse. So when I say that we need the Kingdom of God, I’m saying that we need a miracle. And it would be a miracle to me if we all accepted the blame for this problem and then actually did something about it. That’s when God’s Kingdom will come to North Minneapolis; it will be through you and I.

I think there are probably a lot of different and affective ways to bring the Kingdom of God to the city. So how can we own this problem together?

Love is Law

Do you ever feel like a scripture passage is haunting you? That’s how I feel about this “Greatest Commandment” (Mathew 22:34-40) passage posted below. I can’t get past it. I want to bring it up in every conversation. The more I think about it, the more I can’t get it out of my mind.

First of all, it seems like Jesus was being tricked. Jewish leaders were trying to get him to say something that would create division. They were looking for a reason to disagree and debate and set themselves apart from Jesus. I love that Jesus pulls out the love card (how unifying!). You cannot argue with love (even if you want to). Love God and love each other; who can disagree with that? (although, I will admit that a good debate would arise around how we “love”- but that will miss my point).

Second, I think it’s safe to say that Jesus (a rabbi) memorized and was amazingly well educated around what we consider to be the Old Testament. An incredible foundation of knowledge of the “law and the prophets”. And he claims that ALL of this hangs on loving God with everything we are AND loving each other. Jesus made love the new law.

What if all of my philosophy, theology, politics, and actions hung on this law of love? I don’t think that I give this commandment the weight that it should have in my life. I also don’t think that I’ve ever really understood it, maybe that’s why it’s hitting me so hard.

I am not trying to start a discussion with this post. I am wondering if you will let this scripture haunt you for a little while. Will you sit in this with me? I wonder how God could change us.

The Greatest

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Mathew 22:34-40 (NIV)

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Mathew 22:34-40 (KJV)

When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “”Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: “Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Mathew 22:34-40 (The Message)

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Mathew 22:34-40 (ESV)