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.
Faith without Works is Dead (James 3:1-12, NRSV)
The Scripture reading is drawn from Sunday’s lesson for August 23, 2020 ©Uniform Lessons Series, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.
3. 1Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4 Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8 but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.
Prayer for Hope and Comfort for the Marginalized and Oppressed
Today’s prayer by Rev. Ebony J. Grisom, American Baptist Churches, is from, “United Against Racism: Churches for Change,” ©New York: Friendship Press, 2018, p. 73. You may purchase the book through Friendship Press, on their website at store.friendshippress.org.
God of justice, this world is rife with injustice. We live in the manifestations of fallen humanity daily. Longing for Eden’s perfection, we torture ourselves and one another with ever-present sin. Systemic racism runs rampant everywhere, including in the church. We have been mistaken for the serpent. We are not the enemy: we are brothers and sisters. We are made in your image. We are included in the sheep of your pasture, yet others seek to scatter and destroy us. We pray that You would be the shepherd that You have promised in Your Word as spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
“Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord” (Jer. 23:3-4).
Therein lies our hope. Hallelujah! Finally, we will be emancipated from the marginalized earthly existence and called to live into the exceedingly abundant bounty that You intended in the beginning. As you hasten Your coming, quicken us to create a world where this just reality reigns on earth.
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. . .” (Matt. 6:10).
Make us one in the Spirit. We pray in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.