Late last week, as the country was waiting for and wondering about the Grand Jury decision that was going to be coming from Ferguson, Missouri, I was contacted by a coalition within the Duluth community who were working on some responses to whatever the decision might be. Would officer Wilson be charged with a crime in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, our would Wilson’s narrative of the events, wherein he felt threatened by Michael, and thus used appropriate force, lead to end to the legal process?
In Duluth, community responses began to be organized before we knew what the Grand Jury would decide. The church I pastor, First United Methodist Church would be a place for prayer, counsel and reflection. The verdict came Monday. My church was offered for prayer from noon to four p.m. on Wednesday.
Not many came that afternoon. Perhaps other events had provided sufficient opportunity for their reflection. In any event, I had determined that I wanted to do something during that afternoon. Once an hour, beginning at noon, I went either into the chapel or the sanctuary and rang my prayer bowl. Earlier in the day, I had also decided that I would offer a brief prayer service at 4 p.m. if anyone was present.
Four p.m. came and no one was there. I offered the prayer service anyway. I rang the bowl. I used the United Methodist morning prayer, slightly revised. New every day is your love great God of light great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and to devote each day to your work in the world – the work of justice, peace, compassion, beauty, reconciliation, creating the beloved community, and love. I read “The Magnificat” from Luke 1, Mary’s powerful words about the horizon of hope in which we live, about a God who works for justice. I prayed a body prayer. Then I sang. I was a little self-conscious about this, but I did it. I sang “We Shall Overcome” and the last first of “We Are Called” – Sing, sing a new song. Sing of that great day when all will be one. God will reign, and we’ll walk with each other and sisters and brothers united in love. We are called to act with justice. We are called to love tenderly. We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.
It was, for me, an act of hope.
With Faith and With Feathers,