As chaos continues to unfold in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a New York pastor decided to lead her church in prayer Sunday by adopting the “hands up, don’t shoot” stance protesters have used in recent days.
Parishioners at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City came together in prayer to remember Brown, actor Robin Williams and the scores of individuals around the world who are being threatened by extremism. But rather than fold their hands as they invoked God’s name, the faithful joined the Rev. Adriene Thorne in an “ancient prayer position.”
“This gesture is a centuries-old gesture of prayer. Before it ever became in our 21st century context a ‘please don’t shoot’ gesture this is the way ancient people of faith prayed,” Thorne told congregants. “They prayed with their arms up to stay alert. It also was a gesture of surrender … to God.”
After explaining that raising one’s arms in a surrender stance is a traditional form of prayer, the preacher added that this same position is the one that some witnesses say Brown was in when police officer Darren Wilson shot him. Thorne also noted that Howard University students took the same stance in a recent protest photo that went viral.
The pastor went on to pray as the congregation held their hands in the air.
“We surrender, but we do not give up joy, which informs our vision of your preferred reality. We surrender, but we do not give up faith in a God who is able to transform situations and guide people on a path of justice and righteousness,” Thorne said. “We stand with the family of Michael Brown, we stand with the family of Robin Williams and at the same time, God, we are thankful for the young black and brown male teens in this community who are alive … we pray for their safety.”
Watch the prayer below:
The ancient stance Thorne spoke about is known as the “orans position,” which, according to EWTN, a Catholic TV network, was once common among people of faith and is still used today.
“The ancient monuments of Christianity, such as the tombs in the catecombs, often show someone in the Orans position supplicating God, to show that the prayers of the Church accompany the person in death,” EWTN reported.
Some Protestant denominations also still regularly use the orans position as well.
(H/T: Huffington Post)