A prayer for the church in light of the events in Charlottesville

Our Gracious and Heavenly Father,

We come before you heartbroken over the news over the weekend.  For some reason, personal brokenness and random tragedies seem to naturally fit into a separate category compared to the ugly brokenness wrapped up in hatred and racism that was on full display in Charlottesville.  

We recognize that you are a God of life and of love.  Out of your goodness and grace you made humans in your image, each and every human, women and men, black and white, together bearing your image.  And when people who bear your image are dehumanized, marginalized, oppressed, and terrorized, we who claim you as our Heavenly Father, your disciples, and followers of the Way must be clear on who we are and who we are called to be.  We are compelled to

  • call out the evils in this world,

  • and stand up for those who feel marginalized and terrorized,

  • and defend the human dignity of every single person on this planet,

  • especially those who are currently and have been historically marginalized, oppressed, and victimized.  

There is no place for racism, tribalism, dehumanization in your Kingdom or in those who are called to expand it.  Open our eyes and reveal the offensive ways that are in us, that are deep within us and even out of site. For whatever role we play or have played, whether implicit or complicit, we repent and ask for your forgiveness.  

We ask for your forgiveness for the ways in which we dehumanize regions, people, ethnicities that we don’t understand or are scared of.  Forgive us for working so hard to find some way to justify our positions, attitudes, and interactions.   In our brokenness we have made those made in your image “other” and have allowed racism to infect our ideology, our politics and our theology. 

May we not be like the religious people in the parable of the good samaritan and simply walk to the other side when we see something that is difficult and ugly.  No, may we do the costly work of engaging with those whom we don’t understand or can’t even empathize with.  May we be people who are slow to speak and quick to listen and learn.  May we grow in our empathy and compassion as we navigate these complex waters.  And may we have the courage to stand up for and with those who need a defender.

Hear our silent confessions, laments, questions, and groans.   

Have mercy on our church, and on the church as we navigate these troubled times.  Protect your bride as the issues that were cracked open this weekend are complex and have histories and perspectives that none of us can fully comprehend.  

On paper, the way forward is hopeless.  The deep wounds that have expressed itself in hatred, racism, fear and brokenness are beyond repair.  

But we do not grieve or lament as people without hope!

No, it is at this moment that the church of Jesus Christ must cling to their savior, healer and redeemer.  Through the power of your Holy Spirit we have been called to be ministers of reconciliation, people called to breakdown all the walls of hostility.  

We must stand against the impulse to divide ourselves, to find smaller and smaller tribes of like minded people who protect their interests at all cost.  Rather, we must be people who have submitted ourselves to you, who see our identity not in national terms, racial terms, gender terms, or economic terms.  Rather let us see our identities as wrapped up in you.  You are the God over all of creation, you are our Heavenly Father, you are the head of the body, you are our rabbi, and where you go, we will go!  For in Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek, Male or Female, Slave or Free, Black or White, Democrat or Republican, Citizen or Immigrant.  We are one!  

I am thankful that the overwhelming voice of your people is in agreement and standing in solidarity against racism and hatred.  May our broken country and world see the hope that the church proclaims.  For it is the church who is bringing hope, healing and reconciliation through the resurrection power of Jesus.  

Jesus you are our Lord and we are directed by your Spirit for your purposes and your glory!  And it is for just a time as this that the church must be at her best!  We must be willing to use the gifts that we have been given and to leverage our influence in the spheres we have been placed so that in every nook and cranny of our community, of our country and of our world, Christians will be about the business of the church, bringing with them the expanding impact and values of the Kingdom of God.  May we work with all of our might to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God!

Lord Have Mercy!

Amen.