Even as our world continues to wrestle with the ramifications of COVID-19 and the economic crisis, we are bombarded with acts of escalating racism. As people of faith we must ACT NOW to end racism— action that is accompanied by prayer for guidance, healing, and protection. These posts are offered to unite our actions and our prayers for the sake of God’s justice.
The Boy Jesus (Ecclesiastes and Luke, NRSV)
The Scripture reading is drawn from Sunday’s lesson for July 12, 2020 ©Uniform Lessons Series, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. . . 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
Luke 2:39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.
Prayer Inspired by the Book of Habakkuk
Today’s prayer by the Reverend Kathryn Brown (July 5, 1956—April 4, 2018), of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, is quoted from “United Against Racism: Churches for Change,” ©New York: Friendship Press, 2018, p. 78. You may purchase the book through Friendship Press, on their website at store.friendship-press.org.
How long, O Lord, must my people endure racial oppression and injustice? How long must we try to make sense of senseless actions by those who are supposed to protect us? How many times can we be disappointed over unjust decisions by a justice system that continues to fail us?
I cry out to You in distress over the injustices that continue to plague my people. Why, O God, is there no justice? Why do You allow wrongdoing to continue and allow those who do wrong to go free? My sons are shot like hogs in the street, and there is no justice. Innocent children witness their fathers killed by those who are called to protect them, and there is no justice. I cry out to You Lord God, because it seems that the law is paralyzed. Destruction and violence are before us. Strife and conflict abound. It seems that we are going backward instead of moving forward. The wicked go free while the innocent are made into villains. Mothers bury their sons hoping that there will be justice. Fathers are in anguish because they cannot find justice for their sons and daughters, whose lives just do not seem to matter.
In the midst of my despair, I am reminded that You, my God, are sovereign. You are from everlasting to everlasting. You heard the cry of my ancestors, and You hear my cry. You delivered my forefathers and foremothers, and I trust You to deliver this generation. Although our enemies seem to prevail, grant us courage. Grant us wisdom. Deliver us from the evils of racism. Open the eyes of the blind. Grant us grace to trust You. Change the hearts of the wicked. Let the righteous never lose hope.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.