A Statement in Response to Ongoing Injustice Emphasized in Recent Weeks from the Social Justice Task Force of Grace Presbytery

Our Lenten “way of the cross” has led us with Jesus to this most holy of weeks, where we who have died and been raised with him in baptism, might be renewed in faith and that “in hours of danger, we may not fail, but follow him always as Lord and Christ” (from the liturgy for Maundy Thursday, Book of Common Worship).

Recent events have brought us face to face with such “danger” where the temptation to despair, defeatism, and division are strong. So also, the temptation to offer “thoughts and prayers” as substitutes for the hard work of ending racism, hatred, violence, and the misery of an unresolved
immigration crisis.

As we journey this Holy Week and cross the threshold to Easter, let us remember that Christ did not come to earth for God to make a public appearance. In unity with God, Jesus was sent to reveal God’s liberation for all people. In proclaiming liberation, Jesus suffered because of us, with us, and for us in order that the power of his life might be expressed through us to bring God’s love and justice for peace on earth as it is in heaven.

Since God “supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans and widows and blocks the path of the ungodly” [Declaration of Barmen], we invite our Grace Presbytery siblings in Christ to:

LAMENT “hateful violence and senseless killing,” and “the suffering, sorrow, and shame of the oppressed” [The Book of Common Worship];

PRAY for courage to act “that the races may be reconciled; the young, educated; and the old, cared for; the hungry, filled; and the homeless, housed; and the sick, comforted and healed” [The Book of Common Worship];

STAND “by people in any form of suffering and need, … and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” [Declaration of Barmen];

BREAK DOWN “every form of discrimination based on racial or ethnic difference [The Confession of 1967];

CLAIM God’s promise “you are all one in Christ Jesus” [Galatians 3:28]; and

HOPE that we ignite not in the light, but in lack thereof,
For it is in loss that we truly learn to love.
In this chaos, we will discover clarity.
In suffering, we must find solidarity.

For it’s our grief that gives us our gratitude,
Shows us how to find hope, if we ever lose it.
So ensure that this ache wasn’t endured in vain:
Do not ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it.

from: The Miracle of Morning, a poem by Amanda Gorman


We offer prayers of Lament & Healing for your reflection:

Prayer of Lament

God, in your mercy, hear our cries.
Our sickened world is convulsing – again – and again –
with violence that we could prevent
if we loved our neighbors
more than we loved individual rights.
We are stunned, saddened, sickened, and incensed –
as we have been before – but to no avail
in terms of combatting racism,
enacting common sense gun control,
and ending political rhetoric perpetuating a status quo
of “thoughts and prayers” without reform.

We lament our broken world
beset by disease,
and addictions,
and indifference,
and a religious self-righteousness
that has us planting Easter crosses in our front lawns
while we brace ourselves to bury those newly sacrificed
to changes we lack the will to make.

Shame on us, O God,
captive as we are to the ways of death.
Reaping what we have sown,
we know the drill –
of flags at half-mast,
tearful memorials to the dead,
and for making morality and ethics partisan arguments.

We ask your forgiveness, God of mercy,
trusting in your love which took flesh in Jesus
who willingly entered our violent world
to give his life that we might live.
Comfort the grieving.

Attend to their tears.
Hold their trembling hearts.
Help us as a nation to choose life.
Help us to embrace a good that must be common to all people –
of every race and religion,
honoring our diversity,
because diversity is a blessing given by God.
This we ask through Jesus Christ,
who is our neighbor, our brother, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

This prayer was first offered at West Plano Presbyterian Church session meeting on March 23, 2021, following the mass shooting in Boulder, CO (this prayer is slightly adapted and used with permission).

Prayer of Repentance

God, we seek your nearness for the families and friends grieving the loss of their loved ones. God, we lament with you and with our Asian American brothers and sisters over this violence and terror. God, we repent of our own pride, bias, and earthly desires (Colossians 3:5) and ask you to cleanse our hearts. God, we ask you to build unity in the church so that believers stand in solidarity both in times of celebration and of sorrow. Amen.

Prayer for Unaccompanied Children

God of refuge, Holy One of blessing:
With tender care for the smallest and least of your children,
you bid disciples to let the children come, and do not forbid them.
You reminded your followers that the kingdom of God is formed and
filled with “such as these,” and so we ask you to help us see them as You do:

These little ones who flee gang violence in cities
throughout Central America;
these vulnerable ones and their families, who cannot find food to
sustain or a safe place to take shelter;
these mothers and fathers, who have impoverished their own hope
in order to save their children’s future;
these, Your little ones, who cry out to be covered
by Your sheltering wings, and who seek Your face
in the faces of those who meet them in the strange lands of exile.
We pray for grace and courage as we seek to live up to our nation’s heritage
as a haven for the tired and poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

We pray for generosity and creativity as we work with church and state to
find places of grace, safety, and hope for children and families who are
refugees.

We pray for all who would help: for communities of welcome, for volunteers and visitors, for chaplains, social workers, judges and health care workers – all who tend to the needs of frightened children and seek to balance urgent necessity with strained resources.

We pray for a peaceful spirit as we work and serve among neighbors whose
fearfulness prevents generosity from flowering in human hearts.

O Child of Galilee, you who once long ago
fled the violence of Herod,
received the generosity of strangers,
found refuge with your family in a strange land,
and returned home to show us the way.
Once again, even now in this hour of need:
show us the way of hospitality,
fill us with your love,
and bless all your children whose home is in you
with gratitude, true community, and grace. Amen.

Prayer by the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, PC(USA)

Further Reading

‘We see you among us’: Stated Clerk offers message of love and support for Asian siblings in the midst of violence
Office of the General Assembly, PC(USA), March 25, 2021

I’m a Scholar of Religion. Here’s What I See in the Atlanta Shootings.
Did racism or theology or gender motivate the shootings in Georgia? All of the above. Opinion, New York Times, March 24, 2021

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