The decision of the grand jury not to indict Police Officer Wilson was announced last evening. The prosecutor was thorough, professional, and unemotional when describing the process and conclusions drawn.
Shortly after the announcement the President spoke, echoing the words of Michael Brown’s father, calling for calm, for non-violent protest, for efforts to address the systemic issues that lead to tragedy. It was jarring to watch on the split screen the president speaking about non-violence on one side, while live footage of rioting in Ferguson rolled on the other side. The juxtaposition of images was jarring.
I went to bed deeply troubled, so I prayed.
I prayed for the Brown family. Regardless of the degree of culpability you assign to Michael Brown, his family is grieving the loss of a young son, and that touches the deepest part of my heart. My heart and prayers go out to them.
I prayed for the Wilson family. All the police officers that I know are good people, with hearts for service and genuine compassion for the world. We all know that there are rogue cops, but that is the exception, not the norm. When any office puts on the uniform and straps on a weapon, they shoulder more responsibility than we can fully imagine. And we expect them to make life and death decisions in the fraction of a second. For officer Wilson and his family, his life changed forever on that hot day this summer in Ferguson.
I prayed for the city of Ferguson. As United Methodists, we have members of our extended church family ministering in Ferguson. Their ministry is to people who are grieving, angry, frustrated and hopeless. I prayed for them – for God to speak in and through them, offering comfort, solace, purpose and hope.
And I prayed specifically for a young man from our church, and especially for his young family. He has a lovely wife and two beautiful little girls. Right now he is not with them because he is a Missouri State Trooper; so instead of being with his family for Thanksgiving he will be working to preserve the peace on the streets of Ferguson. He is on my mind and in my prayers.
Before I could finally go to sleep, I prayed for our nation. The politics of personal attack have deeply divided our nation. Now is not the time for polarizing sound-bites from political hacks that personally profit from the dis-ease that is so much a part of our contemporary culture. Now is the time for statesmen and women who will dare to reach across the political, cultural, racial divides and seek out common ground and understanding. We need leaders of great wisdom, courage and vision, to lead us through this age of uncertainty.
That leadership will never emerge if we only pray.
Now is the time that good women and men must listen for the promptings of the Spirit that calls us to take action for peace and justice. Nothing will happen, until we do something to change the world we inhabit.