Like many of you I woke with a heavy heart today. This week people across racial boundaries expressed deep concerns about the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. Last night I heard the news that 10 police officers were shot during an otherwise peaceful protest march in Dallas, Texas. Before I went to sleep I prayed for the families of the two officers reported dead, along with those who were wounded. This morning I learned that 12 police officers and two civilians were shot and that five police officers are now dead. I find the depth of these tragedies and the unanswered questions that linger at this time hard to shake. It is difficult to see the light of so much that is good in our society and world while standing in the long shadow of such collective tragedy.
I assume that in our country today there are many people who are angry and fearful, as there have been for many months as shootings have been reported across the country. This disproportionately impacts people of color, who have a personal connection to these incidents through their race. As a white man, I am aware of my limitations of empathy in this regard, even as I can experience concerns for justice. Similarly, I can only imagine that many of our police officers, who report to work in order to answer calls of distress by citizens in need and understand that any call can put them in harm’s way, are fearful of being ambushed or targets of wanton and reactive violence. It saddens me to think of police and others in law enforcement in our church having this on their minds today beyond the concerns that their jobs require them to consider any day. I have experience talking with those who have lost family members in the line of duty. There are few things more tragic or moving than the death of a person who offered his or her life while serving the welfare of others.
I invite you to join me in prayer for all of these matters:
- I pray for a time when our country does not face fears of such violence.
- I pray that the investigations in Louisiana and Minnesota will be fair and expose the truth of what happened so that just resolutions can be found.
- I pray for the families and friends of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile who are grieving their deaths.
- I pray for the recovery of wounded police officers in Dallas.
- I pray for the grief of the families, friends, colleagues and community of the slain police officers in Dallas.
- I pray for the city of Dallas and for the shock of our nation as well.
- I pray that my prayer will influence the way I speak of all these matters when they are discussed in the days ahead, so that I will exhibit humility and sensitivity to those around me.
The apostle Paul tells us that Christ calls all of us to be ministers of reconciliation in our broken and fallen world. Please join me as I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us in that task.