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Justice Prayers - June 3, 2020

The last few weeks have shaken us again.  This is not business as usual or prayer as usual.  Our African American sisters and brothers in Christ have been calling for lament, for equality, for justice, for a long time.  And so we have not asked them to teach us something new.  Rather, we point you to prayers and laments written several years ago when we found ourselves in similarly raw moments.  Join us in lament and on this long journey of pursuing racial justice.

Prayers for Minnesota, Prayers for America

By: Shannon Jammal-Hollemans, and Derek Atkins

Originally published as Prayers for #Ferguson on August 15, 2014

God of peace,

We stand before you in adoration for the diversity with which you have surrounded us--in creation, in the Scriptures, in each other’s faces, and in you, our Triune God. Lord, we confess to you that we often fail to recognize your faithfulness. We are all too often quick to judge, and slow to listen.

As we hear stories and see images of racial injustice and unrest, we confess that our first instinct is to protect ourselves. Lord, forgive us for the many ways that we segregate ourselves from those who are different from us.

Forgive us for ignoring the unjust systems in which we live, systems from which many of us benefit without thinking twice about the way they affect others.

Forgive us for perpetuating the lie that we all have an equal opportunity for safety and well-being where no such equality exists. We know, O Lord, that we are only equal before you.

Forgive us for making excuses by blaming the victims, pointing to their lack of innocence as if it justifies the loss of their lives. Lord, who of us can stand before you without fault?

Forgive us for failing to live into the life that you modeled for us, a life that enters into the suffering of others and offers healing and grace.

God of all grace, we grieve the tragic death of any person made in your image.

We remember Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the many others who lose their lives for seemingly no more reason than their race. We pray for the family and friends left to grieve them. Grant them comfort and strength and the grace to go on.

We also lift up to you those who live in fear because of racial injustice in their communities, for mothers gripped by fear for their sons, and young people who cannot see a glimmer of possibility or hope. Lord, bring peace!

God of justice, we lament the injustice we see around us. We lament the sin of racism in all of its pervasive forms. We lament media images published out of context. We lament law enforcement that oversteps its bounds. We lament justice systems where some never find justice.

Healing God, we know that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It is in that knowledge that we ask you to convict us of the value of every life made in your image. Move our hands and feet to respond to injustice in ways that build your peace. Empower us to advocate on behalf of those who need our voices raised, even those who we may not know.

Sovereign God, we find our hope in you. Give protection and healing to the United States and the many other places where only you can deliver peace. We thank you that we can bring all of these things to you with confidence, knowing that not only are you capable but you are willing to respond to the desires of our hearts. Align them with yours.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our only Savior, we pray, Amen.

Litany for Those Who Aren’t Ready for Healing

By Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce

Originally posted on Kinetics Live, November 28, 2014. Then republished as part of Prayers for Love in the Face of Violence on July 7, 2016 by Sophia Henager, Kate Kooyman, Shannon Jammal-Hollemans

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 rush to offer a band-aid, when the gaping wound requires surgery and complete reconstruction.

Let us not offer false equivalencies, thereby diminishing the particular pain being felt in a particular circumstance in a particular historical moment.

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 rush past the loss of this mother’s child, this father’s child…someone’s beloved son.

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, those killed extrajudicially every 28 hours.

Let us lament the loss of children of God, dead at the hands of police officers.

Let us weep at a criminal justice system, which is neither blind nor just.

Let us call for the mourning men and the wailing women, those willing to rend their 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.

Let us decrease, so that our brothers and sisters who live on the underside of history may increase.

Let us pray with our eyes open and our feet firmly planted on the ground

Let us listen to the shattering glass and let us smell the purifying fires, for it is the language of the unheard.

God, in your mercy…

Show me my own complicity in injustice.

Convict me for my indifference.

Forgive me when I have remained silent.

Equip me with a zeal for righteousness.

Never let me grow accustomed or acclimated to unrighteousness.

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

Hear Us Out!

Many of the social justice issues the Christian Reformed Church advocates on are interconnected with race and racial inequities. Using the Office of Social Justice’s #HearUsOut action alert, contact your elected officials about your COVID-19 concerns that intersect with racial injustice. Additionally, connect with the Office of Race Relations for resources to further educate yourself on race in the United States and the Christian response.

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