Cry Aloud, Do Not Hold Back

images-2On Friday night I sat with friends from our church and another black friend and her children. We’d been talking about the last week – Baton Rouge, Minnesota, Dallas. Mostly we shared that we were upset, confused, shell-shocked and angry. We felt a ton of despair.

My friend said she felt those things too. She talked about having “the talk” with her kids – what to do when you get pulled over by the police, how to hold your hands open, not to move to your pockets even if asked. Her kids asked why police officers might want to hurt them. She didn’t have a good answer for that.

Another friend shared about how she had to have the talk with her black, adopted daughter. However, since this mother is white, she struggled with both words and experience. She felt responsible as a parent but also has someone with a privilege she could not give to her daughter. How could she work through this? How could she explain what was a reality she could not fully enter?

Conversations like these help me. They confuse me too. They stir me up. They shut me up.

I can have so many opinions about our plight and troubles. I’ve watched the news and read articles about both problems and solutions.

I’m raising up my lament and prayer, my cry to God to save us, fix us, heal us. I’m asking him to keep working and work faster. I’m asking for justice and mercy, a whole lot of mercy. For forgiveness. For the reconciliation of black and blue sitting together with white and brown and yellow, rich and poor, men and women, boys and girls, straight and gay and bi, the self-assured and the doubter and cynic, with learning and physical handicaps, with all types and sorts of gifts and talents and experiences, with lifer Oklahomans and refugees from across the world. I’m praying for the church to be what we see in Revelation 7:9-10 – After this I looked and behold, a great multitude that no one could number from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne, clothed in white robes with palm branches in hand and crying out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 

When we were praying Friday night, my friend’s kids came in and prayed with us. They all prayed for God’s forgiveness for those who had done wrong, for those who had killed people and those who had been killed. They asked God to forgive them and save them by Jesus’ precious blood.

My other friend said her daughter looked at her and said, “God made all people pretty.” He sure did.

A PRAYER:

God of all,

Every life that was taken this week was made by you. The lives that were not valued by the world were cherished by you. You grieve more than we ever could.

Sadly, some of us pray this prayer with weary familiarity.

Sadly, some of us pray in confusion, slowly waking to the realities that our nation has known in her bones for centuries.

We wonder if change is possible. We wonder if there is any way forward that leads to peace as well as justice.

ALL: Hear our prayer, prince of Peace and Righteous One.

May our congregation say a clear and active ‘NO’ to the murder of black lives, and follow it with action. May we be awakened to stand alongside all who suffer injustice, especially in our home city.

May our congregation say a clear and active ‘NO’ to the murder of police lives, and follow it with action. May we find a way to declare justice and bring change that shames the violent and shows them a better path. Be with the true peacemakers who call for justice.

Don’t let us settle for a surface reconciliation that costs the privileged nothing. Lead us into true repentance and restoration of all that racial pride and hatred has effaced.

ALL: Hear our prayer, prince of Peace and Righteous One.

We pray for our city, and for the generational healing that must happen before new life can grow.

We pray for our law enforcement. Protect them and call them to the highest calling of justice. Sustain their courage and comfort the grieving.

We pray for the church, for a godly affliction that leads to repentance. And for power to speak with one voice against all injustice, everywhere.

Give us ears to hear the voices that speak prophetically in Spirit and truth.

We mourn with those who mourn. May your Spirit give peace to all who have lost someone this week.

ALL: Come, Lord Jesus, Come. Hear our prayer, prince of Peace and Righteous One.

(This prayer is largely the work of the pastor of Oakland City Church, Josh McPaul)

Doug in library