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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.

Wisdom’s Vindication (Matthew 11:1-19, NRSV)

The Scripture reading is drawn from Sunday’s lesson for July 5, 2020 ©Uniform Lessons Series, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.

11 Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written,

‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 Let anyone with ears listen!

16 “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,

17 ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we wailed, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

A Prayer to Lift Us to Higher Ground

The Reverend Dr. Marvin A. McMickle is scholar, preacher, President Emeritus of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and author of numerous books including From Pulpit to Politics: Separation of Church and State in the Black Church (Judson, 2014), and Where Have All the Prophets Gone?: Reclaiming Prophetic Preaching in America (Pilgrim, 2019). The prayer was originally composed for his college alumni newspaper and shared within the Aurora University community. Gratefully, we receive it for our use today.

Gracious God,

We turn to you at this time when our nation and the world both need to be reminded of your sovereignty over the whole of creation. While COVID 19 takes its toll through infections, and while protesters fill our streets in response to senseless and repeated acts of deadly force by law enforcement officers, we need you to lift us to the higher ground of mutual love and affection.

We are not just progressives or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans, Black or White or Asian or Hispanic. We are citizens of one earth bound together by one Lord, one faith and one baptism. While some forces are at work to divide us based upon race and region and religion, remind us that we are all your children and that we are all part of one human family.

Your son died so that all of us might be saved from sin. Grant that we will not be content solely with personal salvation, but will live in ways that reveal the love of God that we must show to one another, and especially toward those you call “the least of these my little ones.”

Lord, it may seem that things are spiraling out of control and that we are powerless to turn things around. That is why we embrace the words of Second Chronicles 7:14 that says: “If my people that are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”