Prayer for the Church in Times of Social Unrest4 min read

Dear Father in Heaven,
How can we breathe unless your Spirit gives us breath?
How can we pray unless your Spirit speaks to us?

In Adam we have all been one, one huge rebellious man; We all have fled that evening voice that sought us as we ran. We fled thee, and in losing thee we lost our brother too; Each singly sought and claimed his own; each man his brother slew. (1)

Dear Jesus, our brother,
“We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed,
By the things that we have done and the things we have left undone …
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.” (2)

The sister of color, the brother with skin of brown or black
We have seen as the other, we have set a load on their backs
A load we would not carry nor help them to bear,
While priding ourselves that we are not like our fathers, the Pharisees!

We are so proud—proud to be Americans! Proud of these words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,
That all men are created equal,
That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (3)

Yet we do not treat them as equal in your sight — these your dear children,
Our sisters of color, our brothers with skin of brown or black.
Ha! We even think you, Jesus, looked like an Englishman
When you are a Palestinian! If we saw you, we would be afraid of you.

We are afraid of our sisters and brothers of color and so we make them afraid.
We send our children to good schools and theirs to poor schools.
We pay their parents poorly and our families well.
We reserve the best housing for ourselves and move out if they move into our neighborhoods.
We treat a few well enough to salve our own consciences, but not to save our consciences.

We piously want to think we are better when we’ve been given every advantage in this life
And withheld those easy advantages from your darker-hued children —
We blame them for our own failure to love our brothers and sisters as ourselves.

We righteously think we can sweep the speck from the eyes of those we have forced to do poorly
And do not imagine the beam that blocks our eyes from your light!
A mighty beam that reaches back to when our ancestors settled on these shores,
A beam that reaches back to the beams of your holy cross,
A beam that reaches back even further to the calloused heart of Cain—each man his brother slew!

Father, forgive us! We know not what we do!
Or do we know exactly what we do, and do not do?
When knee or noose strangles the breath of life from our brother’s body,
When we fail to provide adequately for our sisters and brothers and then blame them?

We are afraid of your children of color.
Because we are afraid of your judgment on our satisfied and calloused lives, a judgment so richly earned.
The horrible words, “I never knew you.” (4)
They will rise with you on Judgment Day to tell us what we did and did not do.

Father, forgive us!
Jesus, forgive us!
Spirit, return to us and give us the breath of life in hope
That our sister and brother of color will seek the blessing of being the gentle peacemaker,
The blessing we have spurned.

Together we will seek justice!
Together we will love mercy!
Together we will walk humbly with you, our God.

Dear Father, we do not deserve your forgiveness.
We have sinned as our fathers have sinned!
Can our sisters and brothers of color forgive us for choking the breath of life from their bodies?
To whom can we turn but to you, O Lord?

O Spirit, turn us and we shall be turned!
Turn our hearts to our sisters, to our brothers of color!
Open our eyes Lord! Open our eyes to see you coming to us in skin of brown or black
Asking only for a cup of cold water, a breath of fresh air.

O Spirit of the living Jesus, may your Light from above shine upon us.
In your light may we see light, the light of the truth
That we are brothers and sisters all, that “we are one —
And our life has just begun.” (5) Jesus, the Christ, has come!

Thou camest to our hall of death,
O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air,
To drink for us the dark despair
That strangled our reluctant breath.

How beautiful the feet that trod
The road that leads us back to God!
How beautiful the feet that ran
To bring the great good news to man! (6)

  1. In Adam we have all Been One by Martin Franzmann
  2. LSB Divine Service Setting One and Two
  3. The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America
  4. Matthew 7:23 ESV
  5. Sons of God by Ray Repp
  6. O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth by Martin Franzmann

Photo (c) Pearl/Lightstock

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About the Author

Rev. James Metcalf, Emeritus, resides in Allendale. He has served as an Intentional Interim Minister for the Michigan District, LCMS.

More by This Author

CARLYN ROTH - July 8, 2020

Amen and Amen!
O Jesus, You are the Great Peacemaker! Bring us to repentance that we may receive your healing forgiveness. Only You can join hearts and hands into One Body – Your Body of Christ – with You at the Head. For the Glory of Your name. Amen.

CarolynBurns - July 8, 2020

Genesis 1:27, ESV: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”