I wanted them to cancel church this morning.
I am not saying I wanted them to close the doors. That’s not what I mean. I’m talking about forgetting the music and sermon they spent the week planning. I wanted Pastor to call us together as a body and say, “You know what? We aren’t going to do any of the stuff we normally do. We aren’t going to even have children’s church. Today I want you to keep your children with you. They need to be here because today I am inviting you all to come down to this altar and pray.”
I have long wished that communities had their own wailing walls, like Jerusalem. A place where we could join with our friends and community members to pray and cry out to God.
We don’t put altars in church to good use anymore. Oh, sure, we have our 15 minutes of it, but I’m talking about praying, really praying as a collective unit. There’s power in joining together like that. I saw it Friday night at the basketball game when the student body section all donned the same black shirt and came together to cheer on their team. It was one of the best moments I’ve had in the hundreds of hours I’ve spent watching basketball. There’s something powerful that happens when we encourage each other. We are all our best selves when we work as a team.
Teamwork is what has saved Rep. Giffords, said Dr. Peter Rhee, trauma director at the University Medical Center in Tuscon.
It is prayer that will help her heal.
I wanted to go to church this morning and strip away all the niceties. I wanted us to get down and dirty. I wanted folks to do the ugly cry. I wanted old men and young girls to kneel together and cry out for the family of Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year old killed in yesterday’s attack.
I wanted someone there, maybe a lot of someones, to pray for the family of the shooter because I can’t imagine the shame and guilt I would feel if this had been my child doing the killing. I would need the prayers of the compassionate to sustain me.
I wanted Pastor to put aside his 3-point message replete with jokes and application moment to “bow head to floor” as Beth Moore says and ask God to help the families of those shot and killed because they will be tempted to blame God and not the Source of all Evil for these deaths.
I wanted us to pray for the teachers in our midst, people like my husband, who every morning rise up and face a multitude of children who have grown up in a world that teaches them that violence is a lucrative form of entertainment. A world that has so effectively blurred the lines that truth is compromised in favor of “reality.”
I wanted us to pray for the EMTs, doctors, nurses, police officers and such in Tuscon and the nation over because they don’t have time to recoup from one crises before they are thrust into the next. And you know what they are doing with their free time? A lot of them are taking trips to help victims in Haiti and other regions devastated by Mother Nature, who frankly seems to be having her own issues as of late. Having worked alongside emergency personnel and cops for so many years, I know their hearts and how they break, especially when children are involved.
“I’m not a political person,” Dr. Rhee said. “I’m a public servant.” When you serve men and women on the battlefields the way Dr. Rhee did in Iraq and Afghanistan, you learn very quickly that politics divide us and blood unites us.
Or it should.
I wanted us to kneel there this morning, under that large wooden cross and remember the Blood that saves us from ourselves.
I wanted to come away from church with the assurance that despite the darkness pressing in, all that is Holy remains and is to come.
But, tragically, there was no mention of Arizona in church this morning.