Burying William: Funeral for a gang victim

I didn’t start my day thinking about gang killings. I had been drinking coffee, checking e-mail, juggling schedules, and preparing for Holy Week services. Then Antonio and José showed up. I didn’t know Antonio—he was one of many “assistance seekers” who drop by the church office—but I recognized José from Lunch for the Soul, our weekly outreach lunch to the day laborer population of Herndon, Virginia. For nine years we’ve served large crowds on frigid January days and an intimate bunch of 20 or so when landscaping jobs are easy to come by.

Antonio was fidgety, checking his phone. I found out why. He showed me a crumpled picture of his nephew William, who’d been killed by a gang the week before, his body dumped in a nearby creek bed in Hidden­brook, a neighborhood where the bridge-playing ladies of our church drink tea and the only known villain is an unpredictable homeowners association.

Antonio asked that we have a funeral for William at the church on Palm Sunday, the day we celebrate Jesus being called by name before adoring crowds while his enemies bide their time.