If you’ve been following the news, I wonder if you’re sad and angry like I am about the killing of Keith Lamont Scott by police in Charlotte and concerned for the community there, for the protestors marching, the police officers trying to keep the peace, the people praying and singing and yelling and crying. What do they need? What could we bring them if we could be there?
I have a thought. It might sound silly at first, but hear me out.
Let’s bring them water.
We could hand it to frightened mothers who wonder if their son will be next. We could hand it to worried fathers whose hearts skip a beat whenever police cars drive by because they have children to raise. We could hand it to police officers, who love their communities, who are brave and work hard and want justice as much as anyone else. We could hand it to ministers walking beside people in their pain, being God’s hands and feet in the chaos and the calm.
We could hand the water out to quench their thirst as they shout out their frustration, as they cry and sing and pray and talk to each other. Maybe the water would keep them talking and listening and walking.
But there’s another reason to bring water- something besides quenching their thirst. Stay with me here.
A child said something beautiful and profound during Sunday school last week. The teachers wrote it down and I read it after church, and all week long her/his words have been pinging around my brain and echoing in my heart and giving me goosebumps. It’s about water.
On Sunday we shared the story from Exodus about the Tabernacle, the traveling tent God’s people used to worship during their time in the desert. It’s a beautiful story that offers rich opportunities to wonder about what we do to get ready to come close to God. As a teacher shares the story, she assembles a child sized tabernacle in our desert box, complete with all the important pieces and parts: the altar, the laver (water basin,) the menorah, and the Ark of the Covenant, to name of few. It’s so fun! It’s like a doll house made for God!
After the story was told, the teacher asked the children where they see themselves in it. One of our first graders raised her hand, “The water [in the laver] because I swam in mommy’s belly before I was born.”
Oh! How beautiful!
Just as the priests dipped their hands and feet in the water of the laver to make themselves holy and clean before coming into God’s presence, this child imagined herself as a baby marinating in God’s holiness inside her mommy’s belly, before being birthed to meet the world, to meet God in it.
So pass me the water and a bowl of cotton. Line up, people. Protestors, police, ministers, press. Choose a cotton ball from the bowl and hand it over. Let’s dip it in the water and brush it on your forehead, recalling for you the holy water you came from and the God who treasures you, no matter what. The God who treasured Keith. The God who treasures Officer Vinson. Remember, Charlotte, who you came from- who we all came from- a God who calls us to love as God loves. Who requires us to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
As I move through the days ahead, whether through chaos or calm, I hope I’ll remember to see each person I encounter as the baby they once were, marinating in God’s holiness, preparing to enter the world to meet God and all his children, every one of them precious in his sight.