Thursday, May 03, 2007


National Day of Prayer

Reading the news this morning, I discovered that since 1988 the first Thursday in May has been designated as the National Day of Prayer. Festivities will be occurring in downtown Nashville today to mark the occasion. I am grateful that we live in a nation where people are free to assemble and to pray publicly. For people of faith, prayer is an essential part of expressing our interconnectedness to God as well as to those for whom we pray.

However, I must admit that we often find it easier to pray for one another with our words than to act on behalf of one another with our lives. Even so, both prayer and action are important to lives of faith; and lately, I have been engaged in a great deal of both.

I pray for the Governor, even in my grief and anger over his decision not to extend the moratorium, because I believe that it is my call as a Christian to pray for him and to pray for his intervention in the Philip Workman case. I pray for the family and friends of Lt. Ronald Oliver who continue to suffer as the death penalty system drags up their pain each and every time an execution date is set. I pray for Philip Workman, his family, and friends, who for the sixth time, endure the agony, the torture, of facing another execution date, another death watch, another last meal. I pray for all those sitting on death row in Tennessee who, in a few days, will hear the correctional officers come to take Philip from his cell again for what may be the last time. I pray for all those participating in the execution who work for the Department of Corrections, who do the dirty job on our behalf. I pray all of us, citizens of Tennessee, who participate in the murder of another human being every time there is an execution.

During this National Day of Prayer celebration going on downtown today, I wonder if anyone will pray for Philip Workman, for the Olivers, for our society which seems to put much more faith in violence than in God and in Jesus' way of nonviolence. I hope that we will all keep praying and acting in ways that demonstrate the powers of love, mercy, and forgiveness that are central to our faith, even as we face the difficult days ahead in Tennessee. And so, I will keep praying and acting for an end to the death penalty in Tennessee. I hope you will do the same.
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