I deplore unjustifiable police violence, and I deplore those who use it as an excuse to vilify the police. I’m an old man now, but once in my youth I was a sworn officer. It didn’t last long. It wasn’t my calling. But it made an indelible impression on my life. For the last fourteen years I have been the fire and police chaplain in our community.
It was Noon today. From across the region, fifty police officers, deputies, and fire fighters stood at attention in the plaza at First and Main to remember and honor those slain in Dallas and Baton Rouge. I was asked to offer an invocation. This is what I said.
We live in conflicted times in which we are too easily tempted to turn on each other, distrustful of each other, afraid to give of ourselves for the well being of others not like us. It is not what the Almighty has called us to be.
St. Paul, having learned his own lesson as an agent of persecution, came to understand that in God there are no longer those who are privileged and those who are not, no longer those who are in bondage and those who are free, no longer male or female, but all are one in God’s presence.
We too often stand apart, making excuses for why we are entitled to make exceptions. There are no excuses. There are no exceptions. It is time to put away falsehoods. Let us speak truth in love, not to our neighbors, but with our neighbors, for we are members of one another.
Today we pause in the busyness of our own lives to remember in our hearts, and before the Almighty, eight of our members who have become victims of the violent, hate filled distrust that has infected our world. They were working peacefully among peaceful protesters, black, brown, and white, when violent hatred took their lives. They were on routine patrol when an assassin took their lives:
- Patrick Zamarripa
- Brent Thompson
- Michael Krol
- Lorne Ahrens
- Michael Smith
- Montreal Jackson
- Matthew Gerald
- Brad Garafola
O God, you made us in your own image. Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that the time may not be far off when all nations and races may serve each other in harmony. And let all say,