Wow, I was really struck by the prominent place of Scripture in tonight's memorial service in Tuscon. Isn't it amazing that these ancient texts, one from Isaiah and one from one of Paul's epistles, would be picked up and used by tonight's readers, without hardly any commentary? The Isaiah 40 text read by Napolitano was so powerful, "....but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their faith, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint..." What could be more profound than such words when facing a national tragedy as our own?
What gives this text such profound and universal appeal? What narrative do we share with those who have cherished this text before us? This text celebrates and signals the return from exile. In the prophetic understanding, the exile was part of God's punishment for Israel's sins. I find it a little scary to think that what happened in Tuscon had anything to do with God's punishment. So I don't really think we share that element of the narrative. But the sense of exile was a real undertone in the entire ceremony tonight, wasn't it? In particular, Arizona is in the midst of controversy right now politically because some folks who have been there awhile think that other folks just now coming have less of a right to be there. But, except for a native American minority, all of the folks in that auditorium were in a sense exiles, real strangers in a land not their own.
Maybe that was why I was struck by Isaiah's comforting words. His are words to exiles returning from a hard, long journey, offering them hope that they too will have a home again. Maybe this too jives with the Native American blessing with which the ceremony began. All of us are guests of the Creator in this land.