We have waited. It’s been four months since Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri. And we have waited to see what the grand jury result would be. We have waited to see what the anger of a community would lead to. St Louis has been tense. High schoolers and preschoolers alike picked up on the anxiety of adult leaders. We waited. And watched.
We prepared for what would happen when the grand jury announcement came down. Bais Abraham Congregation contacted UUMC to see if we would partner with them in offering a “Safe Space” for University City. No one knew whether protests and riots would spread to U City and the Loop. We made preparations. We waited, and watched the news, and prayed.
I left town for a funeral, came back, and we were still waiting. We got a call from Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU) that the grand jury decision would be announced at 5 p.m… then 5:30 p.m… then 8 p.m. We were ready. We were watching, and waiting.
Our mail carrier, as she saw us putting up signs, sighed with relief: “I will share this with my colleagues at the post office in case roads close and we can’t go home!”
At 8 p.m., I watched the Grand Jury announcement from my office computer, accompanied by church and synagogue volunteers. And then we watched and waited.
Over the next two days, we served a grand total of six people, primarily children whose schools had been cancelled. It wasn’t the influx that churches in Tower Grove experienced (my friend who pastors there said they received 100+ people the first night). The protests were far enough from U City that the place was quiet.
Our role was of a near-silent vigil. We watched and waited and prayed. This was exactly what we were called to do.
We are entering into the Christian season of Advent. During the four weeks of Advent, we watch and wait and pray. We don’t know what’s coming next, but we know that God will enter into the deepest and darkest moments. God will come. Our wait will be over. Our prayers will be answered. Our calling is to keep alert. To look for signs of God’s inbreaking kin-dom. And to pray.
After I left the church on Monday night, I went with my husband and brother to Clayton to pray. My brother writes about our prayers like this:
This evening my sister, brother-in-law, and I walked to the St. Louis County Police Department in Clayton, the site of the prosecutor’s announcement of no indictment. The protests were elsewhere in the city, and the streets were almost deserted, but I felt like I needed to do something. We didn’t show up on the news, and I must admit, our actions didn’t take a whole lot of courage. But I do think what we did was important and continues to be important every day. Next to that building, next to that old Police Department building, we simply prayed. Like the prophet Moses, we prayed that justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. We prayed that God would protect the police, the national guard, and the protesters. We prayed for our civic and religious leaders. We prayed that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Lord, listen to your children praying.
You can read Connor’s full essay at his blog:
Let us enter in to this Advent season of watching, and waiting, and praying.
My brother, Connor Kenaston, is a Global Mission Fellow through Generation Transformation of the United Methodist Church . You can read my brother’s missionary profile here: https://www.umcmission.org/explore-our-work/missionaries-in-service/missionary-profiles/kenaston-connor