Dear Calvary family and friends,
As a pastor, I turn to prayer, especially during times of crisis. I pray a lot these days. I pray for those sick and suffering from the COVID-19 virus – all the people behind the growing numbers of the dead. I pray about the unrest and rage and escalating violence we see around the country. There is systemic racism that exists in American society – all the names of those victims.
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls for change with the gospel ethic of love, calls for reconciliation and for us to get to work. Watch the Stated Clerk as he remembers recent victims of racial violence and calls us to be better as Presbyterians, Christians, and Americans:
Last night the Hanna family prayed. In particular, we prayed for racial justice, for reconciliation, for the healing of our country, and the utilization of peaceful protests for good. In a conversation with my wife, Brenda, she suggested that I ask more people to join in prayer. And so, I ask you to join the Hanna family in daily prayer. Is prayer enough? I do not think so – not if it does not lead, with God’s help, to change. But prayer is one of the most important acts for people of faith – seeking God’s guidance. So, let’s start with prayer – then, let’s get to work and do our part in Indiana County.
Here is a prayer I found on our denomination’s website:
A Prayer in a Time of Anger, Unrest and Injustice
Holy One, whose Spirit is poured out upon all flesh, whose children you empower to prophesy, whose youth see visions and whose elders dream dreams, we cry out to you with a loud “Hosanna!” Where else shall we go, O Savior? All else has failed us. You alone have the words of eternal life.
You came that we might have life more abundantly, but that abundance eludes too many of us, O God, and hate and bigotry are ever-present. Our news cycles are filled with despair. Our hearts ache as we wade through a global pandemic, reaching grim milestone after grim milestone. But even as we navigate a new threat, old ones still linger. Communities of color bear the uneven weight of a new disease, yet we see that racialized violence and the systemic injustice undergirding it have by no means given way to the demands of a pandemic. We speak some of the most recent names: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Tony McDade. We add them to the litany already in our macabre collection: Aiyana and Emmett, Eric and Sandra, Jordan and Rekia, Trayvon, Atatiana and Tamir, and the myriad others in far too long a list. This great cloud has witnessed persistent injustice and our perseverance in the face of it. Yet, how can they rest when so many keep joining their ranks?
We are slow to confront our complicity and investment in white supremacy and dominance. We live in a world in which Indigenous, Black and Brown siblings are expected and compelled to offer forgiveness at a discount. Far too often, life continues as if nothing has happened while our gaping wounds are still open. When the cheeks are turned, they are met with another hand to the face, gun to the head — or knee to the throat. Forgiveness is too infrequently met with repentance. This, O God, we name as sin. It is our sin. Many of us lament and strive against that sin. Help and empower us to continue that work with diligence and faith. Too many of us still waver and are unconvinced that there is a problem. Remove our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh that are softened toward our siblings. Help us to reckon not only with our personal failings but also with our institutional history and the ways the church has helped to create systems of inequity. By your Spirit, help us to corporately live into our creeds and confessions and provide sanctuary for all God’s children. When we say that “that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged” and that “the church labors for the abolition of all racial discrimination,” help us to truly mean it.
We humble ourselves and cry out to you in the hope that you will hear us and heal us. We lift the communities of Louisville, Minneapolis, Georgia’s Glynn County and all where racialized violence has occurred and unrest has been stirred. Holy God, we recall the words of our ancestors Dr. King, who reminded us that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Open our hearts, minds and understanding to your movement in the margins, so that when your people speak, they are indeed heard, and when they tell the truth about your deeds of power, they are not dismissed as something other than sober and of a clear mind. In this way, let the fires of uprising give way to the fires of your Spirit, where your people hear the Good News of your kin-dom, hear it with joy, and make haste to take part in it. Let us release our attachment to our current world order and walk bravely into the world you’ve intended for us, even and especially when it costs us something. We are mindful that, as the Rev. Dr. Cornel West states, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Your kin-dom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus is still Lord. To the one and only God, our Divine Parent, Jesus, our Gracious Sibling and Holy Spirit, be the honor and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
David J. Hanna