Charlottesville Prayer

Posted: August 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

A prayer offered by Rev. Nick Larson, a colleague who serves with me at Broadway Christian Church in Columbia, Missouri:

“O Gracious God,

I come before your throne with a heavy heart, looking for words to share, because I am afraid. I’m afraid of what has happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. Violence, hate, bigotry was on full display, as some gathered to ‘unite the right.’ They brought shields, clubs, polo shirts, tiki-torches and blood-curdling menace in their hearts. And it brought fear. Terror was spread, white supremacy was channeled into overt interpersonal violence.

O Spirit of Comfort we need your presence in that place and in this place.

As we turn this to you, I admit, I am struggling; I am struggling because I see such evil on full display. I am struggling because those people gathered for hate were people of my generation, they looked like our co-workers, our colleagues, our brothers, our cousins. People I know and love, who also have white skin and wear polo shirts.

They are people who, like I was, were raised being taught the evil done by generations before…taught about gas chambers, of burning crosses, and of hanging trees. And yet their thought was not of the tragedy or horror… but…saw those perpetrating those evils and thought they had some interesting ideas. They want to see all that hate of generations past return. And they didn’t even bother to wear hoods.

And yet, even in the midst of the stream of images that filled our screens. I saw ones that stood against it. I saw a powerful image of a black officer, standing at a barricade protecting the very men that want his rights taken away. This, O God must be a drop of your tears washing away this hate.

And yet, even in the midst of this perversion of humanity, some tried to stop it. Local business owners; city officials; the university; thinking people; compassionate people; decent humans and citizens. They tried to stop, or at least change the venue for this disturbing display of hatred and racism that marched through their streets. This, O God must be a drop of your tears washing away this evil.

And yet, even in the face of silence, some spoke out. My screen was filled with everyone from neighbors to preachers to most politicians denouncing these supremacists. Calling for healing, uniting against hate, people calling out to you, lamenting this tragedy. This, O God must be drops of your tears washing away out divisions.

For if I know anything, I know you are weeping. For you are not racist, you declare us all your children. For you do not condone hate, you lay down your life in front of it. For you do not rank us, you call the first to be last. For indeed, you call us not to wield power over others, but instead to exercise restraint.

So may your Spirit and tears rain down upon Charlottesville, and all the dark corners of our world where hatred resides, may it come like a rushing river to wash away that which hides each person’s divine beauty. May it transform the hearts of protesters, for without it I fear they will be lost to hatred forever.

And May we, here, gathered far away from that place, choose you, so that we do not allow this evil to take root. May we each find the voice to call out in lament to you and lift this before you. And so this morning we pray.

For every pastor, rabbi, imam, chaplain of all stripes and any other caregiver who will have to pick up the pieces in Charlottesville tomorrow and going forward…

For every professor at UVA who will have to make sense of these last few days while teaching biochemistry, physics, humanities, and all other manner of classes…

For those wounded in the violence and for their healers; for the witnesses; the warriors; the perpetrators…

For the families of those who have died…particularly the family of Heather Heyer who was savagely ripped from this world by a mad man…

For clergy and students gathered, standing against hatred and racism, we thank you for their courage and passion…

For everyone who still lives there and will have to face the threats in coming days…

And for this nation that we may once and for all confess, repent, and tell the truth about this sin that threatens to destroy us all…

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

I am reminded of the words of your prophet Isaiah which calls us to see the new things you are doing…and yet, My God, after events like this, I have a hard time seeing how you are going to make a way through this desert, how will you bring a river in this wilderness, how will you transform hate and terrorism like this and make it new?

So we do, what we do, we turn to you, so that you might be the one to lead us to new life. We confess that in this darkness it is hard to see the goodness of your world; when all we see is hardship; all we feel is despair; all we face seems hopeless. We confess that without you, we only seem to bury that goodness. Without you, we too despise and reject what is different, what seems useless, what doesn’t help us in our immediate need.

And yet, with you, we know hope. With you, we know that we are not alone. With you, we know that your goodness and mercy will be with us all the days of our lives, including this one, leading us into eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”




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