My Prayer: Police Shooting Prayer Vigil at Thanksgiving Square

My prayer from this morning’s remembrance at Thanksgiving Square:

Eternal and Loving God,

The surreality of events one year ago this day have not faded in the memories of those of us who live and work here in your city. We give you thanks for all who have come to this place of gathering, this hallowed ground of prayer, remembrance, and solace in the midst of our bustling city….to remember.

In our remembrances this day, O God, we remember so many little things. We remember the surreality of the news itself. We remember the fear and terror throughout our community. We remember the ghostly silence of our usually bustling downtown. We remember how the national press descended upon us, adding additional layers of surreality. We remember the makeshift memorials at police stations around our city. We remember how we gathered in shock, and yet also with unity and resolve, in this very place on the very morning after.

We remember the somber memorial services for the lives of the fallen: Brent Thompson, Lorne Ahrens, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael J. Smith, and Michael Krol.

God, we who love your city, we who serve your city, will never forget. And we are all forever changed.

God, some of us here, as political and faith leaders have marched in numerous protests through our streets. We have been protected by these very police who gave their lives that night.

I am, very personally, aware of the fact that I am not worthy of their sacrifice….
And God, will go further…I will say that, truly, NONE of us are…None of us are worthy of the heroism and sacrifice of the fallen.

And yet, we are aware that THIS was the nature of their calling, O God…to rush in where others would not….to help even those who might protest them….

Jesus once said: greater love has no one than that they lay down their lives for their friends. These officers laid down their lives for citizens they did not even know.

At its best, it is a high and noble calling, O God…and we are not worthy of their sacrifice.

God, our unworthiness can only be redeemed to two things. One we do not control, and the other we do.

That which we cannot control is your love and grace. And so, for those of us citizens who received the sacrifice of these officers, we ask for your grace and mercy for our unworthiness.

But the second way in which our unworthiness can be redeemed is one we DO control, O God. And that is through what we choose to DO, and who we choose to BECOME…with our hands and our feet, with our time and our talents, each and every day.

For those of us who are citizens of this city, make us worthy of the sacrifice of the fallen by leading us to treat each person we meet as a brother and sister, and not as an enemy or an “Other.”

Make us worthy of their sacrifice through the ways in which we love, honor, respect and include all your children here in Dallas….every person of every race, religion, orientation, and economic or immigration status…who calls your city home.

God, for those of us who are political leaders, make us worthy of their sacrifice by pushing us to support policies and laws bring unity, and do not sew fear and division. Especially at our state and federal level, O God, far too many politicians seek to drive wedges between your people us through divisive proposals. We give you thanks for the times our local leaders push back against such divisions.

Make ALL of our politicians worthy of the sacrifice of these officers, by reminding them to serve all of our citizens just as these officers did…without regard to race, religion, orientation, economic status, or political views.

And, O God, to Police Officers themselves, and all those in the law enforcement community, make them worthy of the sacrifice of the fallen by pushing them to seek justice for fellow officers who break the law, bend the rules, and generally give good cops a bad name. In this, we honor both the families of the fallen, and also the families of citizens too often killed by police as well. We insure that all police officers live up to the model of these fallen heroes.

To create a truly JUST justice system…THIS is the final way in which the memory of these fallen officers can be hallowed and honored.

And so, God, one year later, there is much still to be done.

We will never forget the fallen. We will never be fully worthy of their sacrifice. But each of us….politicians, preachers, police, and ordinary people…each of us has ways in which we can help redeem their sacrifice through who we become…through what we do…to make our city a place of justice and peace for all your children.

In your holy name we remember and we pray, all these things… Amen.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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