PASTORAL WORD AND PRAYER
In Witness against Systemic Racism
May 31, 2020
“EVERY PERSON HAS THE RIGHT TO BREATHE”
A Statement Shared by Magrey deVega during worship on May 31, 2020
We acknowledge yet another tragic act of violence committed against a person of color in this country. The victim’s name was George Floyd. We speak aloud his name because his life mattered. We speak his name because the evil of systemic racism continues to poison our society, and we confess our complicity in allowing it to persist. We speak his name, because it’s not enough to not be racist; we must also be anti-racism. We speak his name, because on a day when we hear the words of Psalm 150 and Acts 2, when God says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,” and when the Holy Spirit descends like the breath of the wind, we affirm that black and brown lives matter, and that every person has the right to breathe.
On this Pentecost Sunday, when we celebrate the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we remember our baptismal vows require us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression, in whatever forms they present themselves. This is our calling. May it be so.
A PRAYER OF CONFESSION AND JUSTICE
God of Pentecost,
You send us your Holy Spirit, who “helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” We struggle for words in the wake of more evidence of how broken we are by injustice and inequality. You give voice to our sighs in the form of names – Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd – and countless others.
Forgive us, Lord, for failing to hear their voices unless their stories were video recorded.
Forgive us, Lord, for the prejudice that is in our own hearts, and the failure to stand up to racial bias and white supremacy where we see it.
Forgive us, Lord, for the racism in our economic, political, and social systems which poisons our communities and inhibits human flourishing, and our complicity in allowing it to persist.
Forgive us, Lord, for being more inclined to speak over and through our differences with others, rather than listening and leaning into them.
As we see the anger spilling into our streets and rising into the air, stifle our temptation to silence the voices of the unheard. Grant protection to all your people in public demonstrations across the country and let the messages of lament and the calls for justice linger long after the dust settles.
God, we pray that in the wake of such heartbreak, a new dawn will rise. One in which each of us take action as individuals, as communities, and as your church. Break down the walls in our hearts and in our own ignorance, that we may break down the walls among the oppressed. Show us all the ways, both private and public, to confront racism and eradicate its presence on this earth.
May your compassion and mercy guide and empower us, for the living of these days.
In Jesus’ name,
Note: Photo courtesy of the Rev. Anita Mays.