Lament & Prayer, June 4
June 4th, 2020 | April Karli
LEADER: We gather this evening in the midst of civil unrest and a global pandemic to call on God’s mercy and justice. Just a few days after the day of Pentecost we ask that the Holy Spirit would burn away the sin of racism in our nation and in our individual hearts. We invite God to intervene bringing healing and restoration. We long to participate alongside God in the unfolding narrative of the restoration and redemption of the world.
Readers will take turns reading scriptures and prayers. Parts in bold are to be read by all together. Let us begin by reading this prayer aloud.
Wake Me Up Lord
Wake me up Lord, so that the evil of racism
finds no home within me.
Keep watch over my heart Lord,
and remove from me any barriers to your grace,
that may oppress and offend my brothers and sisters.
Fill my spirit Lord, so that I may give
services of justice and peace.
Clear my mind Lord, and use it for your glory.
And finally, remind us Lord that you said,
“blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.”
READER: A selection from the Book of Habakkuk, written by a prophet of God while living in the midst of sin and destruction within God’s people.
“O Lord, how long shall we cry for help, and you not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make us see wrongdoing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before us; strife and contention arise. So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous—therefore judgment is perverted.
Are you not from of old, O Lord my God, my Holy One? You shall not die. O Lord, O Rock, you have marked injustice for judgment. Your eyes are too pure to behold evil, and you cannot look on wrongdoing; so why do you look on the treacherous, and are silent when the wicked swallow those more righteous than they?
READER: Let us not rush to the language of healing, before understanding the fullness of the injury and the depth of the wound.
Let us not speak of reconciliation without speaking of reparations and restoration, or how we can repair the breach and how we can restore the loss
Let us not value property over people; let us not protect material objects while human lives hang in the balance.
Let us not value a false peace over a righteous justice.
Let us not be afraid to sit with the ugliness, the messiness, and the pain that is life in community together.
Let us not offer clichés to the grieving, those whose hearts are being torn asunder.
Let us mourn black and brown men and women, whose lives and bodies are too often devalued and discarded by a nation whose sins have been too quickly forgotten.
Let us lament the loss of lives by those tasked with protecting and serving the communities they police
Let us weep at a criminal justice system, which is often neither blind nor just.
Let us be men and women willing to mourn and rend our garments of privilege and ease, and sit in the ashes of this nation’s original sin.
Let us be silent when we don’t know what to say.
Let us be humble and listen to the pain, rage, and grief pouring from the lips of our neighbors and friends.
God, in your mercy…
Show us our own complicity in injustice.
Convict us for our indifference.
Forgive us for when we have remained silent.
Equip us with a zeal for righteousness.
Never let us grow accustomed or acclimated to unrighteousness.
Remembering Those Who Have Died
READER: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of all mercy and the God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our sorrows so that we can comfort others in their sorrows with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
We trust in the expectation of the resurrection to eternal life, as we remember this evening those who died unjustly because of the sins of racial injustice and white supremacy and who now rest from their labors.
Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Freddie Gray, Sam Dubose, Philando Castile, Terence Crutcher, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and so many others throughout the history of our nation. Keep us in union with all your saints, and bring us with them to the joyous feast of heaven; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
[silence is held]
READER: A selection from the Book of Lamentations, written after violence and injustice visited God’s people in the nation of Israel..
The thought of our affliction is bitterness in our hearts. Our souls continually think of it and are bowed down within us. But this we call to mind, and therefore have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. For the Lord will not reject forever. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone. When all the prisoners of the land are crushed under foot, when human rights are perverted in the presence of the Most High, when one’s case is subverted—does the Lord not see it?
READER: God of the cross and the lynching tree,
of the jail cell and the street corner,
of the bible study and the police car,
look upon the world you have made.
See how it is full of hatred and how violence inhabits the earth.
Gunshots ring out under the heavens that declare your glory,
singing the destruction of your children.
The streets and sidewalks of this world you love flow with blood,
pouring out the cries of your beloveds.
Do you not hear them?
The clanging of cell doors ring out,
tolling the lives stolen by systemic oppression and unspeakable violence.
Do you not hear it?
How long, O God, will you keep silent?
How long will we fail to be your voice?
In these days, as in days past,
our mothers and grandmothers have become mourners.
our fathers and grandfathers have become grievers.
our children have become wanderers in vacant rooms
our communities have become filled with empty chairs.
Remember the people you have redeemed, Holy One.
Remember the work of salvation brought about by your love.
Arise O God and defend the cause of your heart.
Raise up in us the cries of outrage.
Raise up in us commitment to the long struggle for justice.
Raise up in us the determination to drive out racism.
Raise up in us the grief that cannot be comforted.
Raise up in us the courage to speak truth to power, and hope to hatred.
God of the ones with hands up and the ones who can’t breathe,
Of those with power and privilege who try to do their best
Of those tasked with exercising state power and service for us and against us,
Lord, look upon the world you have made.
Do not forget your afflicted people forever
so that we might praise your holy name with joyful lips.
A Time for Silence & Prayers of Intercession
LEADER: We are going to move into a time of silence and then into a time of prayer for our nation. We will open with a few minutes of quiet. Afterwards you are invited into an open time for anyone who wishes to pray. When you’re finished praying, end your prayer with: Let us pray to the Lord, and we’ll respond together, Hear our prayer.
[2-3 minutes of silence followed by prayers of intercession]
LEADER: With the prayers that have been spoken, and those that are unspoken, let us finish by praying this prayer together…”
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory. Forever and ever. Amen
READER: Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us; look, and see our disgrace! We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are like widows. Our ancestors sinned; they are no more, and we bear their iniquities. The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning. The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned! Because of this our hearts are sick, because of these things our eyes have grown dim. But you, O Lord, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations. Why have you forgotten us completely? Why have you forsaken us these many days Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old— unless you have utterly rejected us, and are angry with us beyond measure.
Oh God, visit us now in our mourning
Be near to us in our lament.
Blood has been shed, precious lives have been lost, evil has had its say.
We acknowledge the hold racism and prejudice have on our national psyche.
Set us free from this bondage.
We acknowledge that violence has been matched with violence, and many are in pain and distress.
Bring healing to us all.
We pray now for the Church in the United States, part of the body of Christ on earth, that it may be a voice of peace, a light of love, working for reconciliation and unity, working for justice.
May we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters; all races, all skin colors, all ethnicities.
May we stand against racism and injustice.
May we stand for love.
Lord, we confess our sins to you:
For all the ways we are complicit in perpetuating racism
For all the ways we have hidden the light of Christ
For all the times we have kept silent
For all the times we have capitulated to fear of ridicule and retaliation
For all the ways we’ve given over to apathy
For all the ways our own prosperity has blinded us to the needs of others.
Forgive us, Oh God.
Protect the innocent Oh God!
Open the eyes of the blind!
Rout out the unjust!
Thwart the plans of the greedy and power-hungry!
May Christ, who re-imagined death, give us inspiration for how to move forward.
May Christ, who said upon rising from the grave, “Peace be with you,” bring us into his kingdom.
May Christ, who did not retaliate but offered forgiveness, share with us his vision.
Lord, have mercy;
Christ, have mercy!
Lord, have mercy;
Christ, have mercy!
Lord, have mercy
Christ, be our light and peace.
Children of God,
It’s time to take off your shoes,
Step out of your comfort zone, and
Wade with trust into the stream of God’s mercy.
Stand still for a moment, barefoot, on holy ground.
Let the healing waters wash your feet.
Take a deep breath as Love soaks into your soul.
Be silent and listen for God’s word to us today.
Read Micah 6:6-8
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
How shall we worship our God?
We have heard what the Lord requires of us.
Leave empty talk and pride behind.
We must walk the walk.
Prepare to step out in faith, even into troubled waters.
Only God knows where we might need to go.
Don’t be afraid.
Jesus will guide our steps along the way,
Teaching us to walk humbly,
To love boldly,
To serve God with body, soul, mind, and strength.
Let us pray for the humility and courage
To follow where the Spirit leads.
Go, proclaiming the name of God,
The love of the Risen Son,
and empathy of the Holy Spirit,
(Prayers are adapted from:
U.S Catholics’ Bishops’ Committee on Black Catholics,
Paul Burkhart, A Prayer Service of Lament for Race & Injustice,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Service for Repentance and Mourning
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren)