I offered this prayer yesterday in our Sunday worship gathering.
God of Peace, who created every person and calls us all to life,
We pause in our gathering today to acknowledge the real brokenness of our world. Particularly today, we remember John Crawford, who was shot here in our city, and Michael Brown, who was shot in Ferguson, MO. Before we ask anything for ourselves, we ask for peace for their families. Death is always tragic, and so we mourn the loss of these young lives as you mourn them. We pray their families sense they are not alone in this time of pain, grief and loss.
We also pray for the police officers who shot them, Sean Williams, David Darkow and Darren Wilson. We ask for peace for their families as well, in this time of confusion, fear and anxiety.
We confess that many of us were taken aback by the responses in Ferguson – not the looting and rioting by the few who look for any excuse to exploit tragedy, but by the calm, peaceful rage expressed in the hundreds of protesters who’ve been on the streets for days now, demanding change.
We confess our confusion is in large part because of our privilege. Most of us here grew up in relative safety. Most of us here grew up looking to a uniform as symbol of safety, of protection, not as something to fear.
Most of us here grew up being taught to stand out, not blend in.
Most of us here grew up with privilege.
We know privilege isn’t a sin – we can’t help how we’re born. But we remember your words: that to whom much is given, much is required. And most of us have been born into positions of power, of dominance, of majority. Most of us wield our privilege without even realizing it.
And in a situation like Ferguson, where everyone has an opinion and everyone has a bias and we’re hundreds of miles away, we don’t know what to do. Who to trust. Who to listen to. And we lose sight of the fact that an 18-year-old boy’s life is over forever. A 28-year old policeman’s life will never be the same again.
Both have been victims not only of their own choices, but of the larger, systemic injustices that threaten to overwhelm even the privileged among us.
So we confess our ignorance. And we offer our desire to be better.
Let us remember your words – let us be slow to speak and quick to listen. Let us be slow to anger and quick to show mercy.
Let us be agents for your peace, the peace that redeems both the victim and the victimizer. The peace that calls both the privileged and the underprivileged your children.
Guide us to find the courage we need to set down our privilege as you set aside yours, to take the form of slaves and serve our brothers and sisters even as you served us.
Let us anxiously await the day when we are all one as you are one, and let our waiting not be passive, but active. Let us join you in doing the hard work of justice, of peacemaking. Let us stand together to heal our racially-divided culture.
We ask these because we believe they are what Jesus would ask.