A Vigil of Lament, Solidarity, and Hope

Tonight, I was proud and blessed to stand with several clergy from our community on the steps of the church I serve and a Vigil of Lament, Solidarity, and Hope.  It was a last minute idea in response to the events of the week in the United States, but it came together well.

Below is the text of the prayer I wrote for the occasion.  It was read by five local clergy brothers and sisters.  Before the prayer was prayed, we read Psalm 77.  Afterwards, we observed a minute of silence before closing with one more short prayer and a blessing.

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In your mercy, God, heal our land!

Gracious and Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being. You are the creator of all things.  You made humans in your image, humans of all shapes and sizes, of all colors and creeds.  You made us with an immense capacity for love, kindness and compassion.  But Lord, we do not always embody those qualities.

We gather here in this place, during a moment of deep struggle in our nation.  We gather with heavy hearts, hearts that are burdened with grief, with anger, with pain, and with immense frustration.

We grieve at the senseless loss of George Floyd’s life.

We are angered that in our society the odds are stacked against some because of the color of their skin.

We are in pain as we are faced once more with the reality of our own brokenness; of our own complicity in the perpetuation of how things are.

And we are frustrated because events like this happen again and again and again.

We bring you our lament at the reality we are seeing

We gather to say that enough is enough!

In your mercy, God, heal our land!

 

George Floyd’s murder is another in a list of unjust deaths that is far too long.  We bring our confessions and we seek your forgiveness.

Forgive us for failing to listen to voices that have been crying out for centuries.

Forgive us for turning a blind eye to the evil of racism.

Forgive us for the prejudice that we each hold in our own hearts, and our failure to stand up against racism when we see it.

Forgive us our own ignorance and failure to understand how we all participate in systems that have not applied justice equally or fairly for all.

Forgive us for being too eager to speak over the other and for being unwilling to listen to the experiences of those who look different than we do.

Forgive us as we gather here tonight to say that enough is enough!

In your mercy, God, heal our land!

 

As we watch on, the scenes being broadcast from multiple cities in our nation are harrowing to watch.  Peaceful demonstrations of protest spilling over and becoming violent because of the actions of the few.

We see the frustration.

We see the years of being unheard boiling over.

We hear those cries for change.

We stand tonight in solidarity with the communities suffering most.

We stand with George Floyd’s family – uphold and sustain them in their loss and grief.

We stand with our brothers and sisters in the African American community as they continue to cry “How Long!”

And we stand with all communities and groups whose life experience makes them feel like they are always swimming upstream.

We pray for all who are gathered and present in troubled cities throughout the USA, praying for those who are there to protest, and for those who are there to protect too.  Grant peace in places of protest tonight.

And for those who go to these places to stir up trouble, Lord change their hearts and take them home.

Lord, enough is enough.

In your mercy, God, heal our land!

 

Lord Jesus, on this Pentecost Sunday we remember that moment when your followers were gathered together in one place and experienced the coming of your Spirit in a powerful way that empowered them and commissioned them to be bearers of healing and good news in their world.

Your work among a gathered group of ordinary people was a work that would change the world and bring healing, restoration, and reconciliation in the power of the Spirit.  By your indwelling, your servants are given the power to change and live transformed and renewed lives.

This is your work, Gracious God, and so we pray: do it again.

As we open our hearts to you, as we seek your transforming power in our lives, please do your work again.

We need another Pentecost!

Open our eyes to the realities and sufferings of those around us, and move us to seek changes to the root causes that bring them about.

Because enough is enough.

In your mercy, God, heal our land!

 

God, we have gathered to lament our current reality and seek forgiveness for our part in it.

We have gathered to express our solidarity with those who are suffering most.

We are also gathered in great hope.

You are the God who is with us in all things.

You are the God who does not run away from the chaos brought about by human sin.

You are the God whose love has been made known in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

You are the God of Christ’s resurrection by which we know that hope is imperishable and that death has no victory.

Help us to remember this.

Help us to remember that although the arc of human history is long, it bends towards justice.

Help us to remember that even though history’s wrenching pain cannot be unlived, when faced with courage it need not be lived again.

Grant us courage.

Grant us humility.

Grant us wisdom.

Grant us love.

In you we have great hope.  Enliven our hearts to that reality and give us strength to press forward so that the dream that Dr. King spoke of will edge closer to becoming our reality.

Enough is enough.

In your mercy, God, heal our land!

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