Calvary Episcopal Church
Memphis, Tennessee


The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
August 13, 2000
Volume 45, No.28

"Lord, Make The Bad People Good,
And The Good People Nice."
This little prayer, on a small sign stuck in the ground, greets drivers at the exit of Memphis Theological Seminary, just as one is about to enter the busy six-lane traffic at the Union Avenue and Parkway intersection in Midtown Memphis. The prayer may well be intended for automobile drivers. It always digs much deeper into me.

"Lord, make the bad people good." My thoughts turn to the bad things done by humanity. I pray over the violence in our American cities and schools. Drive-by shootings where innocent stand-by children are killed. I pray over the terror of shootings in Memphis schools, the nearby Jonesboro, Arkansas school tragedy, Denver's Columbine High School. I pray over hate crimes based on racism. Hate crimes against gay or lesbian persons. I reflect and pray on any form of global or regional ethnic cleansing. Or child abuse. Or spouse abuse. Or greed on the part of the wealthy. Or rage on the part of the poor. Or a culture or climate that seems not to want to get involved and heal the ugly social issues of injustice. "Lord, make the bad people good."

"Lord, make the good people nice." My prayers carry me to the jarring judgment which emerges from "good people" who look with disdain on others who are "different." My prayers carry me to the judgment that dwells within me. Our Episcopal Church. The occasion of arrogance of the Christian Church. God help us.

Quickly I am reminded of two quotes. One is from the legendary Mohatma Ghandi: "I might have become a Christian were it not for the Christians." Ouch! The other from the existentialist, Friedrich Nietzche: "I'll begin to believe in the Christian's Savior when I see more Christians look and live like they are saved." (Nietzche never became a Christian). One wonders: how many "Nietzche's" out there pass by the front door of my life, of your life? The front door of Calvary Episcopal Church? "Lord, please make the good people nice."

My friends, I give you the gift of a simple but deeply prophetic prayer.

~Doug Bailey+

Copyright ©1999-2006