Today I pray for those communities disproportionately affected by violence in our culture, and for those held down by the systems and structures of oppression in our society. For African Americans, Latinos, Muslims and other racial, cultural, and religious minorities. For women. For the poor. For the vulnerable and the innocent.
Today I pray for those in authority whose good work is stained by the dysfunction and abuse of their peers and by the dysfunction and abuse of the system in which they work.
Today I pray for peace, not through subjugation or submission, but through reconciliation and redemption. A peace found only through the embrace of justice. A peace found only through the acknowledgement of God's image in all people, regardless of race or occupation, regardless of religion or culture.
Today I pray for all those who've lost their lives to senseless violence, who've been termed acceptable casualties, when in the eyes of God no casualty is acceptable.
Today I pray that we all might use our ears to hear the voices of the unheard, the ignored, the silenced. Of those like Freddie and Walter and Tamir and Eric and others silenced before their voices might be heard.
Today, I repent that my silence, my inaction, and my compliance has all too often ignored the plight of oppressed communities. Of women and men of color. Of those unlike me.
"When someone comes to you and says, 'Pastor, I've been praying about it and I think we should do x,' that's an open door to say, 'That's great. It sounds like God is calling you to lead us in that effort.'" This commonly shared pastoral quip is often used for things like new ministry ideas, recycling/reuse efforts at the church, and the like. Less often do we hear it in terms of massive theological and societal issues, like the interplay of race, violence, oppression, poverty, and law enforcement within our culture. Yet, in my heart, I feel the conviction welling. If this is truly my prayer, then it must be more than thoughts or conversation with God.
It must be a call to action in my own life.
So today, I pray this prayer would become active in my life. Let this be a call to action, to change, to advocacy, to partnership, to support, and to pursuit of true justice and true peace, and nothing less, never less.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.