As shared in my previous post, this past Sunday I experienced my first Sunday morning, corporate lament service as the corporate worship service. I am thankful that there is a place for this in our congregation.
A second prayer of lament that was very meaningful was spoken by Rae Paul, our Ministry Associate for Adult Education. Humbly, compassionately, lovingly, courageously, and intentionally she spoke George Floyd’s name within her cry for justice and lament over the crushing weight of sin in forms of ethnic hate. The full text of her prayer is below, used by permission. May we always remember George Floyd by name.
An untitled lament by Rae Paul:
Father, we enter this moment of grief, and cry to you: come. We cry in all our voices and seasons of longing and lament: come. We believe you to be our rock and refuge, our shield and salvation, our comforter and guide, you who not only hear our call and bend to meet us in this moment, but weep with us, too.
Today, we are weary in grief, for the blood of violence inflicted has never ceased to cry out from the ground. There are new anniversaries to mark, names yet unspoken, tears unbroken. Today we mark the fresh graves in Buffalo, the remembrance of George Floyd’s murder, the untold deaths of those we cannot name even in the cities we call home. In the numberless sorrows of our ordinary days, these great tragedies feel too heavy to bear, too large to forget, too fraught to articulate. We struggle to know the place of tears, to know how to weep over sorrows long-held, to know how to lament when what we are grieving is the breaking of shalom, the stain of sin upon a world that cries out for you, that has cried, that does cry, that will cry, until you yet come again. These are fresh wounds on old scars, Father, and we are weary of the bleeding.
Today, we weep with those who have been hated in their own existence—for the very fabric of their being. We grieve with one another, with those seen as things to be managed, dismissed, belittled, and discarded; those seen as worth less, without value and beauty; those whose blood has been demanded and bought and stolen; your image-bearers yet seen as the powerless, the outsider, and the stranger in the neighborhood. We grieve for those with unseen worth in the very bones that have been broken, those with dignity in the blood that has soaked our streets and monuments.
Today, we grieve that while we feel the weight of injustice and the wound of prejudice, underneath we yet still fear what you might ask of each of us here: we fear the cost of this love, this forgiveness, this restoration, this willingness to weep with one another.
Today, we are re-learning to grieve the longest sorrows of the world: that in our anger, we killed a son, and in our fear, we hid from your face. For this, we weep.
In this world, we see fear before love, disgust before celebration, distance and rejection before welcome and restoration. For this, we weep.
For the those with broken families, torn by death and by difference, we weep.
For the justice perverted, the cries unheard, the cruelty unending, we weep.
For the times the path towards loving one another well seems as littered with blood and hate as the path that led us to this place, we weep.
For the times our world plays victim, plays victor, all the times we see another turning away and washing their hands – and for all the times that has been us, we weep.
For the times we have been glad that we are not like those others, we weep.
For the stories we are yet learning to tell rightly, we weep.
For the unwillingness to repent, for the withholding of forgiveness, for the choice to love only those we deem worthy of it, we weep.
Even in this, O Father, will you meet us? Even in the most sunlit days, there are shadows, and even in hands full of blessings, we find we are holding sorrow yet, too—sorrow and fear and shame—and to you, to you who sees and hears and remembers, we cry the distress of our sin-sick world and our sin-sick souls. To you, we cry, the unspoken weeping of our hearts in this moment.
In all our voices and seasons of longing and lament, in all the uncounted sorrows: hear us, You who have come. Though we see only darkness, we believe you to be our rock and refuge, our shield and salvation, our comforter and guide, you who not only hear our cry and bend to meet us in this moment, but weep with us, too. O Father, show us yourself, and teach us how to weep.
In the name of Your Son, and by the power of Your Spirit, Amen.