For the past few years, as I’ve learned more about race and privilege in our country, as I’ve learned more about the discrimination against people of color in America, I’ve become more and more passionate about fighting for change, joining the Black Lives Matter movement, and using my privilege to advocate for truth and justice. But this week, for the first time, my passion turned to heartbreak. For the first time, I was broken over our country. I sat in a circle full of women I love and admire, and choked back sobs as I prayed for racial reconciliation in our country. I prayed because it was all I knew how to do. I prayed because I cannot change the hearts of anyone around me, but I know the One who can. Ultimate truth and ultimate justice come from the One who created it all, and in the midst of the deaths of two more black men and five police officers, all I can do is fall to my knees.
Lord, you are good, and you are sovereign. In the midst of heartbreak and chaos, You are our peace, you are our strength. I beg that you would bring reconciliation to a broken and hurting world. I pray that you would bring us together, unite us as one people under You. I pray that you would open the eyes of your church, that you would open the eyes of the privileged who follow you. Make it abundantly clear to us that your Kingdom is one of beauty and color, that your Church is not exclusively white. Open our eyes, open our hearts, let us scream and shout for those who have lost their voices.
Oh Lord, let change begin with us, with your church. Let your people be the first to stand up and proclaim that something here is not right. Let us scream and shout and mourn for our brothers and sisters of color. Let us join them, let us link arms as we proclaim that their lives matter too. Let us be slow to speak and quick to listen to those who are in pain. We are hurting and we need you. White, black, brown- we need you. Show us that we need each other.
Let us unashamedly proclaim the names of those who have not known justice while here on this broken earth.
Lord we lift up the black men and women, boys and girls, who were forcibly removed from their home countries and brought to America in shackles, where we began a legacy of slavery, brutality, and murder. Open our eyes to the truth that the system of slavery has left a lasting impact on our country and our communities.
We lift up the leaders who fearlessly fought against the injustice of Jim Crow laws in the 1950’s and 60’s. We lift up Martin Luther King Jr., whose legacy of of nonviolence was rooted fully in your Gospel. We lift up Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks, who refused to believe that they were less than. We lift up John Lewis and those who sat down in Greensboro sit ins, despite the hate thrown at them. We lift up all who marched, all who spoke, all who used their bodies and their voices to change the legal systems set up against them. We lift up those who marched from Selma to Montgomery, not once, but three times, to stand up for justice. We lift up those who gave up their lives for freedom.
We lift up Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered in 1955 for whistling at a white woman. We lift up all of the men and women of color who were killed at the hands of hate, never to see justice in their lifetimes. Lord, let our hearts break over the truth that these legal systems have not yet been fully rectified.
We lift up Michael Brown, we pray for his family, that two years after his murder they would continue to heal from the results of police actions taken against their son. We lift up those affected by the 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri, that their battle cry of “Hands up, don’t shoot,” would still be heard around the world.
We lift up Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Rumain Brisbon, Jerame Reid, Tony Robinson, Phillip White, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, and the hundreds of other unarmed men and women of color who have died at the hands of those responsible for protecting them.
We lift up Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and we beg that these deaths would be the last, that this would be the moment our country proclaims that enough is enough.
We lift up Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa, the five police officers killed while protecting Dallas citizens’ rights to peacefully protest. We lift up their families. We ask for healing. We lift up the officers who ran towards the danger, echoing the cry that Black Lives Matter.
We pray for those who have been told that their lives matter less because of the color of their sin. We beg for forgiveness for the way we have treated those whose skin does not match our own. We beg that you would convict our hearts, that you would change us.
We beg that you would raise up leaders in our country brave enough to join the fight, brave enough to proclaim freedom and justice. Build up a police force dedicated to empowering the communities they serve. Rebuild the system that has been devastatingly broken.
Lord, we ask that you would convict the hearts of those who have committed acts of ill intent towards our bothers and sisters of color. Convict the voices of bias inside all of us. Give us a hunger and a thirst for justice, a hunger and a thirst that can only point back to You. This is your battle, Lord. We are your soldiers, let us be your hands and feet. Lead us to the victory that belongs to you. And in the end, sweet Jesus, let us pass through the gates of heaven arm in arm, rejoicing in eternal life together. Let your sons and your daughters rejoice as one.
We love you. Amen.
“I am convinced that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed within us.” Romans 8:18