I ache for you today. My heart aches to the point that I’m in a strange sort physical pain. The prophet would say I’m travailing, the cynic would say I’m wasting my time. And me? I’m not even sure what to think. But I have to say something today. Let me be corrected tomorrow, but let me not be silent today.
I recognize pain when I see it. Pain on the face of a community that has lost sense of herself, of how normal is supposed to feel. A community that has been thrust before the national eye and raped by every possible opinion, poll and plank of political propaganda possible.
The ache I have prompts me to a form of prayer. Not really with words, because I don’t know exactly what to pray. But with groanings.
I’m groaning today at the talking heads that will forget the taste of your flesh by the time they’re next meal has arrived. For whatever reason, we trust them to regurgitate our nourishment on command. Yours just happened to be the plat du jour. And I’m sorry.
I’m groaning for the beautiful person that’s picking up the litter this morning along your sidewalks. No video cameras catching his or her act of service. No one championing his or her heart to see healing brought to your town; they themselves don’t even know what to do, so they start with the only act they can think off: to make Ferguson beautiful again, one scrap at a time.
I’m groaning for a black family that lost their son. Of all people not to fault for an emotional response, it’s them. And yet their vision has cleared to desire something that smacks of the divine. I’m groaning for a white family that now must always watch over their shoulder, sharing in what so many black families already walk in everyday.
I’m groaning for your leaders, both spiritual and civic. Asking God to grant them immense wisdom for the long road ahead. I’m pleading with the Lord for renewed grace. For favor with one another as the spiritual try to emulate Christ, and the civic try to embody discretion.
I’m groaning, most of all, at the community of faith outside of your town. I’m sorry that in many places she too has lost her sense of identity when it comes to you, Ferguson. Where so many of her leaders seem to be silent, I find overwhelming numbers of her congregants willing to speak out of step with that of her Betrothed. They’ve failed to pray for even ten concerted minutes for you, and yet their proficiency at small-time publishing entitles them to profess their allegiance whatever emotion is on tap.
They’ve shown that their affluent position has clouded their judgement, has created a fog over the Christ that granted paradise to the thief and washed the feet of a murderer. They can’t even spell “indictment,” nor do they recognize the bitter knife they plunge into humanity when they use “white” or “black.” I groan at our collective ignorance, and our failure to live up to one person’s expectations—the one who alone has the right to expect much of us, because we claim to be sanctioned by his blood offering.
I groan for those of us who think racism is dead, failing to realize that it’s very much alive in our Facebook feeds.
Sometimes, Ferguson, I wonder just how far we’ve come. Do our people even hear us on Sundays?
Listening is a reflex, but hearing is an art. Oh, may we learn the language of artful hearing once more.
We’re not “modern man.” Despite our epic leaps—and there are many—it’s days like today where I’m convinced we’re just animals with computer screens for toys. We’re Cain pointing a finger at Able saying, “He deserved it,” while ignoring the blood on our hands from the safety of our couches hundreds of miles from you, Ferguson.
It is the epitome of gossip to think we have any right to an opinion of who you are, Ferguson, unless we live with you. Among you. Bleeding with you. And we’re sorry. For coming to our own conclusions so far from your doorstep. For failing to spend even ten minutes in prayer for your borders, your families, your leaders.
It’s in the cacophony of civil unrest that the will of society is revealed, it’s just that the majority rarely think they’re the ones under examination.
I may not be a pastor of many people, Ferguson, but I’m a pastor of people who matter. My voice may not be as loud as some who need to be saying something as spiritual leaders of our nation. But it has at least a little volume. To call people to remember they’re Christians, not Republicans or Democrats. Christians. That do the things Jesus did.
I’m praying for you, Ferguson. For ten minutes right now. It’s the least I can do as a Christian.