My sisters, brothers, and siblings in Jesus Christ
who knew what it was to be deeply troubled,
We live in a world roiling with pain and grief,
in desperate need of deliverance.
But we do not go it alone.
Please, join me in weaving our many prayers into one
lifted up to the God who sees us, knows us,
and draws us, all of us, to Themself.
For those who yearn to see God,
but no longer know where to look,
no longer know whom to trust or what to believe,
For those who come to Christianity
hoping for a glimpse of the Divine
only to be forced to bow before
an idol to whiteness, to maleness, to worldly wealth and power,
For those who go through the motions of worship
but do not feel heard by God
or seen by their faith community,
For those who yearn to be known
by their fellow human beings
as kin in the image of God,
worthy of the same dignity and rights,
let us pray:
For every victim of a hate crime,
of white supremacy and white nationalism,
of fetishization, criminalization, and xenophobia,
For Breonna Taylor and her family, who still wait to see justice
over one year after her death,
and for those who continue to strive in her name,
For unaccompanied minors making the perilous crossing
into the United States, sent by family
who love them desperately enough to lose them,
hoping against hope for them to know safety and prosperity,
For Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who have seen
hate crimes against them rise drastically in the past year —
and particularly for the eight human beings,
among them six women of Asian descent,
murdered in the Atlanta area this past week,
O God of the oppressed,
who in the person of Jesus knows firsthand what it is
to yearn to be seen, to be known, to be welcomed,
and who knows firsthand what it is
to be stripped of humanity by unjust powers,
arrested, tortured, and executed by an unjust state,
look upon the atrocities, hear the desperate cries;
empower us to be your hands, feet, and heart
in this broken world.
Please, give those who are lonely, lost, languishing
in our congregation and in the broader world
a glimpse of your face, shining back at them
in the face of a loved one or a stranger,
or in forest, mountain, ocean.
Make tangibly known to each of us
your deep and abiding love,
your assurance that there will be justice,
there will be peace —
and that, in the meantime,
you see. You know. And you are here in our midst.
I wrote this pastoral prayer for Grace Presbyterian in Tuscaloosa, AL, for a Lenten service centered around Jeremiah 31:31-34 and John 12:20-33.
In the John passage, Jesus is courageous enough to be vulnerable enough to admit his psyche is “deeply troubled” — from the Greek word ταράσσω, which also means disturbed, agitated, the setting in motion of what should be still. He is terrified of his impending arrest, torture, and crucifixion — but, in solidarity with all those who have no choice in such trauma, he says yes to it.
How do we say yes to solidarity with those experiencing police brutality and hate crimes, particularly with the rise of hate crimes against the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders)?