Monday, November 24, 2014

A Gut Cry to God After Fergusson

Some friends and I at Fuller Theological Seminary were so grieved by the shooting of Michael Brown and the difficulty of conversations around it that we started to practice a monthly day of prayer for this year on the 9th of the month.  We are doing it on the Quad, Fuller's online community I helped create.  Our first prayer was led by Jeanelle Austin.  My prayer was in response.

I don't normally pray in public as Jesus warns against the temptation to self-aggrandizement. But I've decided to post it here as a way to say something honest in public about these events.


Dear God,

I come to you and confess that my white culture taught me to fear black men.  I pray as a white person who has benefitted from access to privilege, power and money to the degree I’ve been unconscious of it most of my life.

I confess that my family made money on black labor in the same same sawmill town that made James Cone rise up and challenge the white church. A challenge to face its infidelity to Jesus in their tacit support of and the lynch mob and the jail beating.

I confess that I have doubted the stories of my black friends about their experiences with the police.  It took youtube and going to church together to make it possible for me to see past my insular reality.  Every black person I’ve asked since I started believing has a story.  Even off duty black officers.

Please be with the families of black men who have been killed by the police this year.

Please be with the the boys in their teens watching the way our society is willing to let them die.  Kindle hope in their hearts and stern resolve to outlive and subvert those expectations.

Wake us up to the subtle and unconscious ways that we turn away and explain away violence done to black people that would hit us differently if happened to white people.

Weave our families together with people from the other side of all the boundaries that divide and sub-divide the places we live.  Call us to feel the danger that our neighbors feel.

Use your scripture and your preachers to show us how the practice of enslaving humans has consequences for generations that can’t be erased by a few decades of legislation.

Open our ears to the blood crying from the ground.

Use your pastors to create space for our brothers and sisters in law enforcement to talk about the impossibility of carrying and using guns, tazers and clubs on our behalf perfect.

Inspire us with the stories of faithfulness to the way of Jesus embodied in the leaders of the civil rights struggle.  

Awaken in our hearts and our conversations a call to bear witness that the gospel demands a response to this deep sickness buried in the heart of our culture.  

Let us who have ignored or had that history hidden from us come with humility and learn it from our black brothers and sisters, in print and over meals.

Open our eyes to the the way the gospel shines light on the needs and the areas where folks are kept away from what they need to thrive. In Pasadena and Altadena.  Call us to move into tough neighborhoods and listen for Jesus knocking.

Give us wisdom and insight into how we can use the power we have in the communities and pulpits we have to confront and dismantle the policies, narratives, fears and suspicions that are literally deadly.

Teach me that guilty feelings are not penance.

Teach us that how we act is more important to you than how we feel.

Teach us that how we act, specifically toward those with the least power, individually and collectively, is more important than how we feel.

Teach us that the sacrifice you desire is not white guilt, but concrete acts of love, inclusion and empathy.

Inspire us to see where those can fit into the lives and relationships we have today.  Where they don’t fit, pry us open.

Make new cracks in our defenses.

Graft us into the communities who are suffering.  Make their suffering our suffering until we are one body bearing witness to your oppression, your torture and death at the hands of the state police.

Lord, take off the masks our culture and our history have hung on us.  Let us recognize each other and see ourselves the way we really are.

We ask these things in the crucified name of Jesus.
This prayer is an invitation to add your prayer to my own, where you live, in your church, in your town. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot for sharing this nice post!You’ve done really excellent job!



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