The tone needed to be set. The true reality needed to be raised. The eternal perspective had to be introduced. Citizens of Amarillo and other panhandle communities crammed into the city council chambers and a standing-room-only overflow space last evening to offer their opinions on the Confederate Soldier statue in our city’s Elwood Park. Uniformed police officers lined the sidewalks and steps outside City Hall where four or five demonstrators displayed the Confederate flag. Another dozen or so officers patrolled the lobby and doors inside. The director of the local chapter of the NAACP was there to speak. So were representatives from Sons of the Confederacy, Indivisible Amarillo, The Freedom Riders, and the VFW. It was tense.

We needed a prayer.

Greg Dowell, our long-time associate minister here at Central, was on deck to lead that prayer. Greg is in a rotation with several other pastors in Amarillo who lead the invocation at city council meetings and, as luck or God’s providence would have it, last night was his night. He leads the opening prayer once every couple of months, just five or six times a year. But last night’s was his.

The mayor instructed everyone to be seated, called the meeting to order, and then asked Greg to lead the prayer. He stepped to the podium, cleared his throat, allowed the room to go silent, and then boldly called on the Lord of all Creation.

It was truly inspiring. It was Spirit-led. God-breathed. It was beyond perfect in every respect. Every line. Every word. It set the tone. It reminded of THE true issue at stake. It provided the eternal perspective. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud of a co-worker. Ever. And more proud to be a guy’s brother and friend.

Greg is very thoughtful with his prayers — it’s one of the many things I admire about him. He doesn’t take prayer lightly. He researches his prayers. He sprinkles them with holy Scripture and with the faithful words of the saints who’ve gone before. Greg’s prayer last night were the first words publicly offered in the meeting. And they were the best.

God of all humanity, you call us to live in community.
Fill us with charity so that we can care for one another.
Fill us with mercy so that we can have compassion for each other.
Fill us with grace so that we can live in harmony.

Father, help us resolve conflicts peacefully.
When we disagree, teach us to communicate respectfully.
When we see things from different perspectives, teach us to listen.
When our convictions are strong, we pray that our love for our neighbors is even stronger.
Teach us how to love.

We pray for those in positions of leadership. Their influence is great and they impact the lives of many in our community.
Equip them with discernment and wisdom.
Inspire them with vision.
Fill them with hope.

Father, we ask you to drive out discontent and strife, anxiety and fear. Reveal to us a better way of life. A life filled with love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.

Father, you have created us in your image. You have blessed us with great diversity. It is only in You where we can find true unity. And that is the beautiful life which we seek.

Amen.