Another day. Another shooting.
Everyday lives impacted and scarred forever.
An innocent life lost.
The last day or so has been a blur. We live in a world where one can point to numerous recent examples of senseless shootings. Just typing that is infuriating. It happens in neighborhoods, street corners, houses, navy yards, sororities, and schools of all levels. Remember Sandy Hook? Heck, two men were shot and killed just this past weekend in Central Seattle. But when you watch it or read it on the news (likely on your smartphone or tablet), you can’t possibly fathom it happening in “your school.” Well, yesterday, on a nearly perfect 72 degree Seattle day, that shooting took place at Seattle Pacific University.
And while SPU is not technically my school, it’s the closest thing to a school being your school without one graduating from that school.
SPU is located about a mile from Quest Church where I pastor. Numerous professors and administrators worship at Quest. Numerous. Several dozen undergrad and graduate students (and alumni) also worship there. My wife, Minhee, recently completed graduate school at SPU. Several of my church staff went to school there. Q Cafe’s manager went to school there. One of our baristas is a freshman there. Couple of One Day’s Wages’ interns go to school there. My kids do summer basketball camps there.
It’s surreal. It’s painful.
While two were wounded but on the road to recovery, one was tragically killed. It is painful no matter what. And even more so when a nameless, faceless victim becomes named and identified. Couple hours ago, this faceless and nameless victim was identified. It was inevitable. It becomes even more painful and surreal when it is someone you’ve met.
His name is Paul Lee – a Korean-American freshman from Portland. He’s been to Quest Church couple times and I remember meeting him once. I don’t remember much about our chat. I just remembered his overly wide infectious smile. I don’t really know much about him but his friends speak the world about him. They speak of his humor, smiles, energy, goofiness, and his faith in Christ.
We pray for his friends and the SPU community.
We pray for his family.
Oh, we pray for his family.
I can’t imagine the grief of his parents…who according to the news, was on a trip to Korea when they heard the tragic news. As I write this, they are on a plane ride from Korea to Seattle.
I can’t imagine.
Oh Lord, comfort them in their grief.
And as we mourn and pray, there will come a time. Another time. Again. To ask the question about guns and violence in our culture and society. Seriously, what would Jesus do with guns?
But for now, we mourn and pray. We pray for those at the hospital. We pray for the community at SPU. We pray for his family. And we mourn some more.
Rest in Peace, Paul. As I’ve heard of your dancing prowess from your friends…may you rest in peace and dance with joy with your Creator.
* If you’re anywhere in Seattle and need some space to lament, pray, and hope…join us at Quest Church this Sunday at 9am or 11am. – http://seattlequest.org
Grant us, O Lord, comfort,
even as You hear our laments and heartfelt cries of distress.
We pray, O loving God, for the one among us who has died.
We pray for Paul Lee.
Minister to his family and friends,
be with those who mourn his loss,
sustain those who are grief-stricken,
and help us all in our shock.
O God, we pray for the one who
perpetrated this mindless act of violence.
Deal with his troubled soul,
love him in spite of his hatred,
and bring him not only to justice
but to repentance and spiritual wholeness.
Lord we pray now for our neighborhood,
and for the city of Seattle.
We know that what happens in one place
affects all those who are connected to it.
We bring our city before you now.
God, we pray for the family members near and far,
and for the closest friends of students who have been most affected.
Comfort our families, and help us to know
how to best care for all those with whom we are connected.
Help us, O God, in our sadness, confusion, and anger.
Help us to deal with this tragedy with
honesty, forthrightness, and courage,
even as You strengthen our faith and resolve.
Lord, in spite of this day let us not lose hope,
let us not give in to despair,
let us not think that evil or death have the last word,
and let us remember that we serve the Risen and Exalted Lord, Jesus Christ.
O Lord our God, accept the fervent prayers of your people;
in the multitude of your mercies,
look with compassion upon us and all who turn to you for help;
for you are gracious, O lover of souls,
and to you we give glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever.
* a liturgy read at SPU’s prayer vigil