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.
Two Kinds of Wisdom (James 3:13-18; 5:7-12, NRSV)
The Scripture reading is drawn from Sunday’s lesson for August 30, 2020 ©Uniform Lessons Series, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.
3. 13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.
Prayer for Hope and Comfort for the Marginalized and Oppressed
Today’s prayer by Kathryn Mary Lohre, Assistant to the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations & Theological Discernment, is from, “United Against Racism: Churches for Change,” ©New York: Friendship Press, 2018, p. 75. You may purchase the book through Friendship Press, on their website at store.friendshippress.org.
Good and gracious God,
You have set us free from the slavery of our sin, including the sin of racism.
You have gathered your church together, united and freed in Christ.
You have bestowed us with treasures of diversity, blessings that too often we bend into burdens.
For we cling to—all of us, whether captivated by or held captive to—the sin of racism. This deadly “mix of power, privilege, and prejudice” keeps us divided from each other and from you (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, “Freed in Christ, Race, Ethnicity, and Culture,” ELCA Social Statement, 1993).
O God, our God, we cry out to you that black lives matter.
We come before you, as the prophet Amos did in his time, calling out for your justice to roll down like waters. We cry out for the black lives that are degraded, diminished, demonized, divided, and destroyed, for as long as one cannot breathe, none of us can. The body of Christ is suffocating, and the church is complicit. Breathe your breath of life into us afresh.
Give us your wisdom to help us understand the complexity of racism and the compounding nature of oppressions. Give us your courage in our homes, schools, and communities as we teach our children to honor each person as made in your image. Give us your Pentecost vision of God’s people once scattered now gathered together as we seek to change and build more equitable systems and structures for all (John 11:52).
We are your people of hope—incarnate, in the flesh—that God is with us, Emmanuel. This is the “hope that does not disappoint us” (Romans 5:5). This is the hope we long to embody to your world. In Jesus’s name, Amen.