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Through the Spring and Summer, and now into Fall, we have borne the grief of a global pandemic, endured a massive loss of life and of livelihood, and protested escalating violence against Black Lives. Even as we wait on the help of Almighty God, we are compelled to stand up; to defend the cause of righteousness. With boldness in our prayers and by our actions we seek to redeem the soul of our nation.

God’s Plan Revealed (Genesis 45:1-8, 10-15, NRSV)

The Scripture reading is drawn from Sunday’s lesson for September 27, 2020 ©Uniform Lessons Series, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.

45 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

10 You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11 I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ 12 And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. 13 You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” 14 Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.

Prayer from the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee

Today’s prayer, written by Rev. David Simmons, Chair of the Executive Committee of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, was originally offered at the Interfaith Prayer Service at Second Baptist Church on Sunday, Aug 30, 2020 in Kenosha, WI. We appreciate and respect everyone who participated in the effort to heal, connect and spread solidarity for victims of injustice.

First, let us pray for the people of this city.
Comfort the people of Kenosha, O God, and hold them in your ever-loving arms. We pray for those who have died and their loved ones, for those who have been injured, for those who march, for those who are charged to keep order, and for those who give aid and medical attention.

We pray for peace, but we understand that we cannot have true peace without justice…and we cannot have justice for all until we have justice for black and brown lives. Fill us with divine love, so that we may see that the change being asked of us is the change that you demand for the sake of all of your beloved children.

God of the Nations, our founding documents speak in flowing language of the natural rights of humanity, and the establishment of a democracy to protect the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But yet, at the base of the Tree of Liberty, enshrined in the very language of the Constitution, a poisonous root was allowed to flourish — the idea that some men, by virtue of the color of their skin, were created less than equal. Native populations of this land were exploited and displaced. The people of Africa were imported and enslaved to bring forth economic prosperity for their new masters. This poisonous root has brought forth tainted produce season after season, year after year, generation after generation. From Jim Crow and the Strange Fruit hanging from the poplar trees of the South to the redlining and the naked and unfettered racism of the North. The events that bring us to this place today are not one year’s crop or a single bad apple, but the bitter harvest of centuries of unaddressed racism in our culture.

We come today to pray for Jacob Blake — and for healing…for him, his family, for the soul of our nation, for the pain of far too many families impacted by the murder and abuse of black and brown persons. We ask you to break us open, God, so that we can be remade, reformed, reforged into the beloved community that you desire for us.
Break open the hearts of our elected leaders. Break open the hearts of our law enforcement community. Break open the hearts of those citizens who are bearing arms. Break open the hearts of our business community, and our non-profit community and our faith communities, break open ALL OF OUR HEARTS to your love so that Justice may roll down like an irresistible torrent, and righteousness like a mighty stream overflowing its banks.

God, We ask you to give us today a double portion of the spirit that has inspired faithful people to move from talk to action. As Frederick Douglass said, “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” Help us to pray this day with all that we have — OUR legs, our arms, our voices, our minds, our spirit. Help us to pray through peaceful protest, help us to pray through legislative action, help us to continually lift our hearts unto you and never stop until as Dr. King prayed, freedom truly rings throughout our land for ALL of God’s Children.

We know you by many names, Holy God, but you know each of us individually by ours. You never forget us — may we never forget and fail to draw our strength from you. Amen.