I’m not looking to pick a fight with Republicans or embarrass them.  I’m writing to beg for the lives of people I love.

Even after coming to terms with Democrats on tax bill issues, Senate Republicans continue to block a bill that would provide much needed healthcare for the thousands of first-responders who are dying and suffering economic distress because they rushed to the scene during and after 9/11.  They are suffering because they saw suffering.  They are broken because they tried to pick up the shattered pieces of the World Trade Center and in so doing put together the fractured pieces of the world community.

They helped the military, the FAA, the FBI and law enforcement of every kind.

They helped weeping family members to find closure so that they would not have to hold up pictures of their lost sons and daughters at the gates of ground zero.

They helped one another make it through the most disturbing sights and smells of their lives.

The helped a country and a world see the good that can come…the love that can be revealed in the face of evil.

And Senate Republicans are blocking the bill that would bring them healthcare.

I am not writing to embarrass or point out fault.  I am writing to plead for the minds and souls of firefighters from my congregation.  When the planes hit, firefighters and paramedics from my congregation didn’t hesitate.  They left everything, rushed into New York City and dug bodies out of rubble in the hope that they might find the living.  In the process they saw things far worse than we can imagine.  Do you know how the government knew that the stewardesses on the flights had their hands duct-taped?  It’s because a member of my congregation found a pair of severed hands, duct-taped together that had somehow survived the blazing inferno.  To this day, they suffer from PTSD.  To this day, they suffer from cancer.  To this day, they suffer from lung and heart failure.  On that day–and the many days that followed–they tended to the soul of a nation and offered us healing by their witness.

And Senate Republicans are blocking the bill that will offer counseling as well as medical assistance.

Sen. Kyl criticized Sen Reid’s proposal to work through the Christmas holiday, saying it was disrespectful to Christianity.  As a ordained United Methodist minister, I haven’t figured it all out, but I feel confident in saying this:

Jesus will be okay with it if you work on Christmas Eve to make sure these heroes get medicine.  This is the Jesus who got in trouble for healing on the sabbath!  You have the power to heal.  Don’t hide behind Jesus because you don’t want to use it! By the way, firefighters still work on Christmas.  Paramedics still work on Christmas.  The police still work on Christmas.  Are they disrespecting their faith or living it out?

So here’s my request:  send a note to a Senate Republican and tell them how you feel.  Ask for an answer.  As soon as I post this, I’ll be writing my letters to the two Senate Republicans from Texas.  I hope that you’ll join me.

And please pray this year for those who gave us hope.

To contact Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson:  http://hutchison.senate.gov/contact.cfm

To contact Senator John Cornyn: http://cornyn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactForm