Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Prayer The Parish

Prayers of the People: A Litany Against Racism

compiled by Dr. Jason Myers

 

During the season of Lent, we will spend time in our Prayers of the People acknowledging corporate sins in our world of which we need repentance and amendment of life. Today’s prayer is a litany against racism and we’re reminded from our Old Testament reading in Exodus today, that God heard the cries of oppression and mistreatment of his people and responded in compassion and justice. With these prayers, we as a community ask for God’s redemptive presence in the church, world, community, and individual lives. And we offer our own lives to God’s mission of healing and reconciliation in the world. Let us pray.

Lament Against Racism

Gracious God, we thank you for the human family filled with all the peoples of the earth. We are thankful that you have created such an amazing and wonderful diversity of people and cultures.

We pray that you will enrich our lives with ever-widening circles of fellowship, so that we may discover your presence in those who differ from us.  Deliver us from the bondage of racism that denies the humanity of people, and deprives all people of the blessings of the diversity you have created; deliver us from assumptions that we make without thinking, and presumptions that we take without asking.  We have blinded our eyes. In spite of the clear evidence of deeply embedded racism all around us, we have looked the other way.

Racism has choked the life out of black and brown bodies all over the world. Racism has shaped our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and sadly even our churches. From the auction block to the jail cell and detainment centers, racism has told black and brown folks that they are less than.  Racism is not merely a buzz word but rather a lie that says the kingdom of God is not good enough.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We have hardened our hearts. Believing the lie that others have the same opportunities as ourselves. We do not allow ourselves to admit that our lives were shaped as much by racism as theirs—some to benefit and others to harm. But it was and it is and it continues to be. We have cared too little. We have grieved too little.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Too many black bodies have died from the hands of slavery and Jim Crow laws. Practices and laws that were evil and unjust in dehumanizing your creation. Too many bodies of color have been wrongly incarcerated and demonized in society. These are not merely political talking points, but rather sin issues in not allowing my brothers and sisters to experience the kingdom here on Earth.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We have silenced our voices. Our voice has not been raised in prophetic rebuke and anger. Our feet have not stepped out for justice alongside those who have more courage than us. And in silence, we are accomplices to bigotry.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We have sinned against you O God in whom there is no partiality.  As a church, we have sinned against those who suffer the evil of racism.  We are sisters and brothers of your same divine family. Indifference has smothered our soul and prohibited fleeting impulses for reconciliation. We ask for your forgiveness and we will seek forgiveness.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for your church. We have failed to name the sin of racism and to root it out. We have been silent in its wake. We have been complicit in its growth. We have been unaware of its hold on us. We proclaim today, Lord, that nothing in white supremacy comes from you. And we ask you to convict us. Push us to speak up and to step out of our comfort zones. Change our hearts, oh God.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray that we might deeply long for justice to roll down, that we might invest our lives in changing this devastating, hate-filled story, not because it’s virtuous or pious, but because every time a person encounters violence it is a violation of our faith. It is a dismissal of the sanctity of human life. It is a denial of the life of your kingdom.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord, we need your strength to step beyond blindness, indifference, and fear; to step toward those whom we have sinned against.  O Lord, open our hearts to respect and uplift the dignity of every person. Open our eyes to see the injustices within the church and society. Open our ears to listen and learn from the experiences of people different from us. Open our mouths to speak out against prejudice and injustice.

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the people of this land], that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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