I feel like I need to ask for your forgiveness. Once in awhile, I get so tired of hearing the bad news that I take a break from it. I don’t read the paper. I don’t watch it on television. I don’t check the news feeds on the Internet. I just try to ignore it. And that is what I did for one day, beginning last Saturday morning. I mean, how much can happen in less than 24 hours?
I went off to church with a kind of clueless, “business as usual” mindset. It didn’t help that I didn’t read an email from a broken-hearted church member until after the first service. It didn’t help that I missed a text from my wife, Ellen, about the shooting in Dayton early Sunday morning. It didn’t help that emails from the regional ministers in Texas and Ohio didn’t arrive in my inbox until shortly before the second service.
So we went on with worship as usual and stayed with the program as it was planned and printed. Susan mentioned it during the concerns and celebrations and gave us time for some quiet meditation during the pastoral prayer. But, in hindsight, I wonder if that was enough? If I had been paying better attention and hadn’t taken my mini news sabbatical, could the services have been different? Perhaps I should have had the courage to toss the bulletins aside?
I now find it ironic that I was preaching about the Lord’s Prayer and some of the spiritual practices we are thinking about this summer. Rather than talking about centering prayer, maybe we should have spent some extended time being quiet in God’s presence? Rather than mentioning praying for others, maybe we should have spent the hour together doing it for the people in El Paso and Dayton? Instead of referring to lament, maybe we should have taken time to mourn and weep together? So please forgive me. Some of you probably came to worship expecting to do those kinds of things—expecting to think and hear about the ways our faith informs our responses to these senseless, tragic events.