Praying for Change: Daily Prayers for Anti-Racism (April-June 2021)
APRIL 1, 2021
A Maundy Prayer
Jesus said to him, "Do quickly what you are going to do." - John 13:27 NRSV
He sat at the table with you on that night,
That Thursday night we have come to call holy,
You knelt before him and washed his feet,
You showed him service, love without words.
But then you called out his uncleanness,
The stain that took up residence in his heart,
But still you gave him bread, that you called your body
And told him to do what he was going to do.
Because he then ran out into the night,
He missed the command, that “maundy” moment,
Where you told them to love with the love that you loved,
And he knelt on your neck until you breathed your last breath.
Is that the source of deep-seated sin,
This hate that divides us and tears at our soul?
Did we leave the table too soon on that night,
Concerned about getting our individual grace
But avoiding the directive to love with your love?
Bring us back, loving Lord of life and death,
Let us sit with you and hang on every word that you say,
Let us not be too quick to be declared clean,
Let us not gulp grace and then leave all alone.
Give us, once more, the command we ignore.
And maybe this time . . .
Derek C. Weber, March 2021
APRIL 2, 2021
Come Sunday, oh, come Sunday, that’s the day.
Lord, dear Lord above, God almighty,
God of love, please look down and see my people through.
“Come Sunday”, words and music Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington,
United Methodist Hymnal, 728
Lord of life in the face of death,
If ever there was a day we needed to be able to hope that Sunday was coming, it was this day. If ever there was a day we needed to believe that death was not the last word. That suffering was not the whole story, that blood that spills and pain that shouts and breath that leaves does not sum up our existence it was this day. This Friday we dare call good.
This was the day when the hammer rang out like a gunshot in the light of day, and another life was taken. This was the day that the hate drove deep like a nail in the flesh to take away what was perceived to be a threat. This was the day that the blood poured out and showed itself the same color as any of us despite the suspicions. This was the day that breath was choked out by the power of authority and institutionalized oppression. This was the day that the laughter of derision and prejudice rang from a hill on the wrong side of town. This was the day that defined infamy.
If ever, Lord of sustenance and hope, there was a day where we needed to believe in the power of Sunday, it is this day. So, please, we beg you, God of love, please look down and see your people through. On this day. Amen.
Derek C. Weber, March 2021
APRIL 5, 2021
Oh, God of death and life,
We await your resurrection.
There are so many dead places,
Where despair and destruction reign,
We are divided by race, color, creed, tribe, gender, and sexual orientation.
We have not heeded your call to be a people of resurrection and hope.
In the Easter season, let new life come.
May we see you in the spring, in every branch of every tree,
In the sounds of the birds, in the whispers of spring wind.
Bring us together to see you as a new creation.
We pray in your name.
Petero A.N. Sabune, from Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester L. Talton (Morehouse Publishing, 2003), 115.
APRIL 6, 2021
Give us grace, O God, to dare to do the deed which we well know cries to be done. Let us not hesitate because of ease, or the words of men’s mouths, or our own lives. Might causes are calling us – the freeing of women, the training of children, the putting down of hate and murder and poverty – all these and more. But they call with voices that mean work and sacrifice and death. Mercifully grant us, O God, the spirit of Esther, that we say: I will go unto the King and if I perish, I perish. Amen.
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, “Give us Grace (1909-1910),” in Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans, ed. James Melvin Washington (HarperCollins: 1994), 105.
APRIL 7, 2021
We shouted, “Christ is Risen!” in our half-filled sanctuaries and over our livestream links this week, God of new beginnings. We proclaimed a new day, a new age, a new kin-dom of transformation and life. And yet, the world seems deaf to our cries – unready and unwilling to embrace a new way of being in the world, a new understanding of who we are as children of God. It is hard to keep proclaiming the Risen Christ when we seem swallowed up in death, when lives are taken at an alarming rate, when hatred because of race seems rampant and rising, when division increases even within families. It is hard to be Easter people, when Good Friday seems to be the louder word.
Lord of Resurrection and of Hope, help us hold on to our proclamation; help us work toward racial equality and end white supremacy; help us see all the people the way you see them, as worth dying for and worth living for. All the people. Help us follow the One who is going before us into a kin-dom come on earth as it is in heaven. We long to be Easter people always. In the name of the Resurrected One, Amen.
Derek C. Weber, March 2021
APRIL 8, 2021
Slow us down that we may hear and see you a little more clearly.
Help us to confront the evil of racism and prejudice,
To see and hear each other more truly.
Our own ways have not worked,
Help us to find your way.
Give us wisdom and courage to build bridges
Between each other, our sacred boxes, and our tribes.
We pray that the Wind of your Spirit will continue
Changing, comforting, challenging, and healing
All the people and systems that welcome it.
Ravi Verma, from Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester L. Talton (Morehouse Publishing, 2003), 112-113.
APRIL 9, 2021
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way.
Thou who hast by Thy might
Let us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand
True to our God, true to our native land!
James Weldon Johnson, “God of Our Weary Years (1921),” in Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans, ed. James Melvin Washington (HarperCollins: 1994), 132.
APRIL 12, 2021
From the depth of our distress in rejection, O God, help us to hold fast to your love. We know that we are beautiful and important to you because you created us. Polish us so that we may become cornerstones for the building of your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Hea Sun Kim, from Together We Pray: Meditations for Korean American Families, Hea Sun Kim (Abingdon Press, 1998), 37.
APRIL 13, 2021
We are mindful also of all kinds of needs in the world. Those needs which are close at hand and about which we have had some superficial concern, which we have met casually out of the richness of our own sense of surplus. There are other needs at which we have not dared to look, our Father, because we fear what our response to such needs might make us do or become lest we find all of the careful plans of our lives upset and the goals which we have put in focus thrown out of line or discarded, because as we look into the depths of certain needs we cannot ever be ourselves in happiness and peace again; this is too costly for us. Yet, our Father, as we wait here, these needs move before us. We hear the cry and the anguish of the destitute, of the hungry, of the hopeless, of the despairing. We cannot be deaf, but we don’t know what to do. We don’t know how to give and not destroy ourselves. O God, deal with our disorder with redemptive tenderness so that we, as we live our tomorrows, may not be ashamed of Thy grace that has made our lives move in such tranquil places. These are all the words we have. Take them and let them say to Thee the words of our hearts and our spirits.
Excepted from Howard Thurman, “The Hasty Word (1969),” in Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans, ed. James Melvin Washington (HarperCollins: 1994), 216-217.
APRIL 14, 2021
I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?
Psalm 8:3-4, The Message
Why do you bother, O Lord of all that there is? Why bother with us? We are such slow learners, refusing to learn even the simplest of your commands. “Love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself.” We can all quote it. We spout it out as a summation of the law, of the faith. We know in the knowing of our heads that this is what you want us to do. We know in the knowing of our mouths that this is the center of all you require of us. Yet somehow, we don’t know it in the knowing of our hands and our choices and our values. We don’t know it in the lines we draw and the jokes we tell and fears we hold.
Why do you bother with us, Lord of a kin-dom of grace and of a beloved community? Dare we hope that you believe we might get there one day? Dare we believe that we, the human creation of this beleaguered planet, may one day be as beautiful in diversity and harmony as the stars in the heavens and the mountains and valleys on earth? Dare we continue to work to build that beloved community of acceptance and transformation simply because you have deigned to bother with us?
We are your creation. May we live as though we know that. Each and every day. Amen.
Derek C. Weber, April 2021
APRIL 15, 2021
O God of peace and healing,
We come before you feeling powerless to stop the hatred that divides races and nations.
We come before you saddened and angered by the denial of human rights in our land.
We come before you with wounds deep in our hearts that we long to have healed.
We come before you with struggles in our personal lives that it seems will not go away.
And we pray Lord, How long?
How long to peace?
And we hear, “Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
How long for racial justice? “Not long, because no lie can live forever.”
How long for our wounded hearts? Not long, I call you by name, you are with me; you are mine.
How long for our struggles? Not long, for my grace is sufficient. I hold you in my everlasting arms beneath which you cannot fall.
How long for the healing of what is broken inside and all around us? Not long, for we shall overcome, together in partnership, human holy partnership, we shall overcome.
Larry Reimer, from Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester L. Talton (Morehouse Publishing, 2003), 153.
(Citations in quotation marks are from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, “Our God Is Marching On,” before the state capitol in Montgomery Alabama, March 25, 1965)
APRIL 16, 2021
Heavenly Father, we thank thee for the opportunity of coming into thy house. We thank thee for our new understanding of the teachings of thy Son, Jesus Christ. We thank thee for knowledge that we are sustained and supported by thy strength and thy power. Be with us in everything we do in our efforts to unite and come together, in our efforts to fight against the enemy who would destroy us. Be with us in the difficult task of uniting and building a black brotherhood which has meaning in terms of today’s world. We pray to thee with a sense of confidence in the future. The things which must be done, we will do. Sustain and support us as we go about our task. Amen.
Albert B. Cleage, Jr., “A Prayer for African American Peoplehood (1968),” in Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans, ed. James Melvin Washington (HarperCollins: 1994), 215.
APRIL 19, 2021
May God deliver us from the curse of carelessness, from thoughtless ill-considered deed. The deliberate evil of the world, we know is great, but how much fortitude and strength and faith could we have to cure this and put it down, if only we were rid of the sickening discouraging mass of thoughtless careless acts in men who know and mean better. How willingly in all these years and now, have thousands of mothers and fathers toiled and sweat and watched from dawn until midnight over these children here, only to be rewarded – not indeed by crime, but by persistent carelessness almost worse than crime. The rules here are the simple rules of work and growth. We do not make them – the very circumstances of our lives make them. And when we break them, it is not because we reason out their unreasonableness but usually because we do not think – because back of Law and Order we are too lazy to see the weary pain-scarred heart of the mother who sent us here. God give us vision and thought. Amen.
William Edward Burghardt Du Boise, “A Prayer for Vision and Thought (1909-1910),” in Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans, ed. James Melvin Washington (HarperCollins: 1994), 107.
APRIL 20, 2021
O God, who creates many races and cultures, we thank you for the gift of many languages that build up the church. You have given us the special gift of bilingualism so that we may know more of your world. Even when our language skills fail us, help us to hold on to the gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to understand your love among us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Hea Sun Kim, from Together we Pray: Meditations for Korean American Families, Hea Sun Kim (Abingdon Press, 1998), 49.
APRIL 21, 2021
“During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.” - Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited, Beacon Press, 1966, 74.
There is a war in our streets, in our souls, Lord of all, bringer of peace. There is a war where “patriots” revel in hatred under the guise of “stopping the steal.” Where politicians draw battle lines of exclusion under the guise of protecting the vote. Where rights to arm are held as more valuable than rights to live. Where delusion breeds conspiracy and the lies hold unity in abeyance.
We are at war, and the victims are people of color who are feared and cursed and targeted and killed. And when questions as raised, the victims are blamed as if they brought on their own death. If only they had complied, it is said, they wouldn’t have been hurt. Or if they had complied, it is said, if only they had shown proper respect, they wouldn’t have been abused. Or if they were respectful, it is said, if only they had stayed in the proper place, they wouldn’t have been killed.
We are at war. And it will tear us asunder, destroying the very things we claim we want to protect – democracy, rights, security, nation. Because in the end, we are at war with ourselves, with our sinfulness, with our shortsightedness, with our fears.
Jesus, Prince of Peace, did not die for this war; Christ was not raised for this hate. Let us find a new hope to which to cling. God of grace, help us find a way to end this war before the war ends us. Let us study this war no more. God have mercy. Amen.
Derek C. Weber, April 2021
APRIL 22, 2021
Lord, we bless your name for the power you endow your people with. Though they name us minorities, we know we are not minor. We are formidable, O Lord, because you are formidable. Forgive us for not fully exercising your power within us.
Robert C. Wright, from Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester L. Talton (Morehouse Publishing, 2003), 123.
APRIL 23, 2021
O God who is a father to the fatherless, a mother to the motherless, and a friend to the friendless, we come seeking fellowship with your power and presence.
In a culture filled with divisiveness, disconnectedness and domination, we pause for a moment of centered-cosmic Christian connection that will bring wholeness and healing to ourselves and our world.
We take time right now to worship you, to adore you, to magnify you, and to praise your holy name. In the words of the psalmist, “We lift up our eyes unto the hills from whence cometh our help, our help cometh from the Lord.” (Psalm 121:1-2 KJV)
O God, liberate us from the domination of individual and institutional violence. Liberate us for the ministry of deliverance to the captives within and without.
Liberate us from a self-centered spiritual materialism and liberate us to serve the present age. Liberate us from building our kingdoms and liberate us for the Kingdom of God.
Now God, we thank you for your liberating love which redeems us, restores us, and revives and resurrects us. We thank you for the gift of love you gave us in Jesus Christ. We thank you that it is because of your divine liberating love that we are able to serve, to stand and have this moment of prayer strengthened for the journey of the day. Amen.
Frank Madison Reid III, “A Prayer for Liberation That Leads to Liberating Love” (1994), in Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans, ed. James Melvin Washington (HarperCollins: 1994), 276.
APRIL 26, 2021
Dear God, my son prays for healthy paranoia concerning the social ills that he sees and feels as a young black person. I pray for holy restlessness and sensitivity to the racism that still affects the lives and impacts the aspirations of your children of the African sun. As we view human sin at work in the world, we pray for wisdom to discern that you created a good earth and that out of one blood you have made all nations to dwell upon the face of the earth.
As we fight the good fight of justice and righteousness against racism and other sins, we pray that we will keep before us the original intent of creation and that we will not replace old tyrannies with new ones. In the midst of our struggles help us to always be able to see beauty and your image in others who may be difference from us.
We pray for passion regarding those things that ought not to be. Save us from complacency – the proverbial “I have arrived” syndrome – that cuts off compassion and empathy for others who have not yet been able to overcome the battering they have received by sin and the vicissitude of life. Deliver us from the temptation to shut ourselves up in our little corner of the world, being content with whatever modicum of comfort and security we have been graced to achieve.
God, grant us sensitivity without cynicism, righteous indignation devoid of bitterness, the wisdom of the serpent without its craftiness, the gentleness of the dove without its naivete. Then, Lord, help us to direct all of this passion that we feel into meaningful action, we pray. Amen.
William Donnel Watley, “Dear God, My Son Prays (1992),” in Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans, ed. James Melvin Washington (HarperCollins: 1994), 263.
APRIL 27, 2021
Thank you God, for the diverse and interesting world you have created. Help us to treat all life with great appreciation and love. May all creatures cry and sing praises to you forever. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Hea Sun Kim, from Together we Pray: Meditations for Korean American Families, Hea Sun Kim (Abingdon Press, 1998), 59.
APRIL 28, 2021
We’re ready to move on, God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We’ve talked about this enough, haven’t we? Eyes begin to glaze over when we bring it up again, this racism issue. Arms are folded across chests and eyes roll around looking for something else to see. We’re bored talking about race. And some might be inclined to let it lay for a while until there is a reason to bring it up again.
A reason? Like yet another shooting, perhaps? Like another slur hurled in a moment of anger, perhaps? Like statistical evidence of a bias against blacks in health care or loan applications or housing decisions? How many reasons do we need to see before we think it is an issue to be discussed? A sin that needs to be confessed? A demon that needs to be exorcised?
God of all humanity, remind those of us who are bored with the issue of race that our very boredom is a sign of our privilege. That there are brothers and sisters who labor every day under the weight of systemic racism and attitudes of suspicion and denial of full humanity who aren’t at liberty to be bored with the issue. Cure our national attention deficit disorder when it comes to declaring that Black Lives Matter, and that we must Stop Asian Hate. Remind us that these are not slogans to employ when the mood strikes, but ways of walking with Jesus toward the kin-dom of God; toward justice for all. And all has always meant and will always mean all. In the name of the one who never grew bored of us. Amen.
Derek C. Weber, April 2021
APRIL 29, 2021
we give thanks that you
upon the prism of light
and color scattered everywhere
validating this earth!
Color rain down upon us
and we each step into it as the ultimate gift
of sharing all we are.
We wear it well as we each reach back
to the beauty
of those gone before us –
their strength now filling us
celebrate all that we are
as we wear myriad color robes
of our heritage.
in the light
of color that is a strong and humble gift
to be poured out,
aid us in destroying any arrogance and pride
that keeps us apart.
This we pray in Jesus’ name
and in the power
of the Spirit Companion. Amen.
Ayodelle Christopher and Dana Rose, from Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester L. Talton (Morehouse Publishing, 2003), 156.
APRIL 30, 2021
Jesus, Master, Rabbi and Friend,
as I look upon your crucified face,
I am reminded of your total Love for humanity.
You took on all the ills, social injustices, and social inequities of your time.
I daresay these same problems
have become so much of our life in the 21st century.
To you there are no color differences,
everybody is made the same according to God’s plan.
There are no rich or poor in the sight of God nor
are there the social injustices
that man has made in the name of religion.
As I ponder and meditate your crucified face,
I am reminded of the ills of
imperialism, colonialism, and domination.
So I pray for strength in my lifetime
to loosen some burdens of society. Because I know
that if I do your work it will help heal
your scarred, tormented, crucified face.
Please give me the strength, intelligence, and LOVE
to be able to take over
where you left off many years ago.
For I know if I carry this yoke,
I am doing the work of the Father and above all things
living the golden rule of “love your neighbors as you love yourself. For you are the Way,
the Truth, and the Light.”
Give me strength
to help others to do Your work to make the world a better place.
Damon Syphers, “My Friend Jesus,” The Anti-Racism Prayer Book: Poems, Prayers and Reflections From Various Sources, selected by the Rev. Rainey G. Dankel, Janis Pryor, Judith Lockhart Radtke, and Damon Syphers for The Anti-Racism Team of Trinity Church Boston, 2014, 32. https://www.trinitychurchboston.org/sites/default/files/ART-Prayerbook-FINAL_0.pdf.
MAY 3, 2021
Source of All Being, Creator of All Life, may Your goodness find its way into the hearts of all Your children. May those who wield power do so with a balance of wisdom, justice, and compassion. May those who feel powerless remember their intrinsic worth and also act with a balance of wisdom, integrity, and compassion. May we all feel called to action based on the injustices of racism and see ourselves not as enemies of one another, not in struggle with one another, but as human beings, created in the image of God, connected to one another’s well-being. May all of us come to acknowledge the racism that is pervasive in our nation and around the world. May we commit to sitting down with one another in honest dialogue, opening our hearts in compassion to one another, bearing witness to the pain and fear of one another, even if … and especially if … “the other” looks and seems so different from ourselves. May we commit to joining together in acts of justice that will bring about equality in education, economic opportunities, law enforcement, and judicial proceedings. May each of us come to understand that, ultimately, “my” experience of freedom, justice, and peace is inextricably linked to the freedom, justice, and peace of every other person in our county and city, our country, and our world. May we open our eyes to the invisible lines of connection that unite us, and with clarity of vision, continue to work for a world where every person’s life is valued, cherished, and loved. Amen.
Rabbi Andrea Goldstein, “A Prayer for Our Community,” Congregation Shaare Emeth, St. Louis, Missouri
This prayer was used by The Upper Room for their “Live from the Chapel” Facebook video on April 21, 2021: https://www.facebook.com/2398230346928792/videos/289468862675243.
MAY 4, 2021
We remember all that died in pain and suffering in colonized lands. We remember all Koreans who lived and died through the tragedy of the past century. You, O God, who have liberated the Israelites from slavery, come to liberate us from our slavery of division and hatred. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hea Sun Kim, from Together we Pray: Meditations for Korean American Families, Hea Sun Kim (Abingdon Press, 1998), 69.
MAY 5, 2021
It seemed such a small thing, Lord of the Cosmos, of all things seen and unseen. A tiny prayer in a sea of need. I thought she should reach higher, claim more, shout to the heavens with demands for a grand reversal, for righting of ancient pains visiting on present-day bodies. It seemed weak, in a way, a prayer borne of exhaustion, bone-weariness that saps vitality and hope. A prayer of despair and yet the tenacity to cling to this one small glimmer of something more, something within the realm of possibility, even in this broken world that seems to be collapsing around our dreams of a kin-dom of equality and respect, of dignity and justice. A courageous prayer, grasping at faith. A prayer that sticks in my head though hours have passed.
I asked, “What prayers shall we pray today?” of the faces gathered for our Zoomed morning prayers. And she said, “that we can have one day where a black or brown body, or any body, is not killed.” Just one day. And then maybe another.
Derek C. Weber, April 2021
MAY 6, 2021
Collect for the Human Race
Creator God, we thank you for the particulars of our own race – for the things we eat, for the things we wear, for our unique gestures and codes, for our music, art, and literature, for our survival generation after generation, and most especially for the fact that you love us and call us your own; we thank you too, O God, that through the Eucharist you make us blood kin with all the races of humankind; we thank you for the particulars of each and every race – for the things others eat, for the different things they wear, for their unique gestures and codes, for their music, art, and literature, for their survival generation after generation, and most especially for the fact that you love them and call them your own; deliver us from all enmity and strife, O God, give us the courage and skill to dismantle the systems which unjustly privilege one race or one class over another, the grace to love those who have abused us even while we call them to do justice; forgive us our own sings only as we forgive those who sin against us; may we live so accountably that we need not be fearful or ashamed of ourselves when, in the faces of those who sometimes seem most alien and most different from us, we encounter your face and your realm here, as in heaven. Amen.
Louie Crew, from Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester L. Talton (Morehouse Publishing, 2003), 93.
MAY 7, 2021
A Prayer for Racial Justice
When we do not see the gravity of racial injustice,
Shake us from our slumber and open our eyes.
When out of fear we are frozen into inaction,
Give us a spirit of bravery.
When we try our best but say the wrong things,
Give us a spirit of humility.
When the chaos of this dies down,
Give us a lasting spirit of solidarity.
When it becomes easier to point fingers outward,
Help us to examine our own hearts.
God of truth, in your wisdom, Enlighten Us.
God of love, in your mercy, Forgive Us.
God of hope in your kindness, Heal Us.
Creator of All People, in your generosity, Guide Us.
Racism breaks your heart,
break our hearts for what breaks yours.
Anonymous, from EYES TO SEE: An Anti - Racism Examen for Jesuit Colleges and Universities, AJCU, updated March 3, 2021. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55d1dd88e4b0dee65a6594f0/t/6040fd92f7a842588c9bf004/1614871957193/Eyes+to+See+Leader%27s+Guide_03-03-21.pdf.
MAY 10, 2021
LET ME NOT LOOK AWAY, OH GOD
“Let me not look away, O God, from any truth I should see. Even if it is
difficult, let me face the reality in which I live. I do not want to live inside
a cosseted dream, imagining I am the one who is always right, or believing only
what I want to hear. Help me to see the world through other eyes, to listen to
voices distant and different, to educate myself to the feelings of those with
whom I think I have nothing in common. Break the shell of my indifference.
Draw me out of my prejudices and show me your wide variety.
Let me not look away.”
Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Choctaw, The Anti-Racism Prayer Book: Poems, Prayers and Reflections From Various Sources, selected by the Rev. Rainey G. Dankel, Janis Pryor, Judith Lockhart Radtke, and Damon Syphers for The Anti-Racism Team of Trinity Church Boston, 2014, 34. https://www.trinitychurchboston.org/sites/default/files/ART-Prayerbook-FINAL_0.pdf.
MAY 11, 2021
Holy One, In your image
You have created humankind, in great diversity.
We give thanks for the differences—
of cultures and ethnicities, of histories and life-stories, of skin colour and language and
hearts that love the world.
We watch in horror as Power desecrates Black and Brown bodies;
walks on their sacredness, kills and subjugates, in thousands of ways,
hidden and overt. We must not stop at watching—held back from right action by our horror
or seeming powerlessness.
Grant us hearts that listen and learn; egos that are willing to accept when our own racism is called out.
Grant us courage, to disassemble the systems, the stories, the mythos, that privilege whiteness over all others.
Give us your Holy Spirit’s wind to call out racism in all its forms—
inside our hearts, inside the church, and in your world,
give us the strength, the wisdom and the will to root out White Fragility,
and White Supremacy, so that they would never again do harm,
never again take away, never again kill.
Help us to be anti-racist,
in all that we say,
in all that we do,
in all that we are.
It is time. It is well past time.
God of all creation, bless us all with what we need, to march on.
To live this work of anti-racism.
In Jesus’ name.
May it be.
A prayer by the Right Rev. Richard Bott, Moderator of the United Church of Canada, https://united-church.ca/prayers/anti-racism-prayer.
MAY 12, 2021
“Watch your language!”
That’s what we were told when we were kids, Word made flesh. “Watch your language.” It was a warning about cursing, about “taking the Lord’s name in vain,” whatever that commandment really meant. We were careful, so we wouldn’t get caught. But we never understood the fuss; they are just words, right?
“Sticks and stones,” we learned that one too, “may break our bones, but words will never hurt us.” Right? Just words. But words can hurt like stones thrown in anger and fear. Words can break the bones of our self-perception, our self-understanding. Words can tear apart, can separate. Words can demean and diminish. With our words, we try to feel superior to another. Words like drops of water can wear away the foundation of a people.
Help us watch our language, God who speaks love into life. Help us see that our words—even those meant to amuse—can wound. Help us hear that how we talk about the other reveals the condition of our hearts. As Jesus said, it’s what comes out that defiles us. So, help us watch our language. Amen.
Derek C. Weber, May 2021
MAY 13, 2021
O God, I implore you to help us name and challenge this unholy angel of our nation. Help us embody your son, Jesus, to confront violence with acts of nonviolence. Infuse us with your Holy Spirit so that we can speak your goodness, your grace, your truth, and your love again and again, causing our communities to repent and return to your ways of justice and mercy. We ask this in the name of your infinite love for all your children in your creation.
Eric H.F. Law, from Race and Prayer: Collected Voices Many Dreams edited by Malcolm Boyd and Chester L. Talton (Morehouse Publishing, 2003), 26.
MAY 14, 2021
Wake us up
To what needs doing,
And what needs undoing.
Wake us up
To what must be let go,
And to what to draw closer.
Wake us up to what enlarges love
And what diminishes it.
In all parts of our life,
Disturb and wake us up!
Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name: 365 Glimpses of the Divine for Daily Meditation, Sorin Books, 2011.