Lord of peace, give us peace (Jn 14:27; 2 Thess 3:16).
Lord, we want to believe that racial tensions are in the past and that racial issues have been resolved. Yet we have seen this week just how shaky the racial ceasefire is that still exists in our nation. We don’t know, maybe nobody knows, all that happened in Ferguson on that fateful day. We don’t know the details that led to the grand jury’s decision, but we do know that a young man’s life was tragically lost, that a police officer is afraid for the safety of he and his family, that many are hurt and angered, that justice feels out of reach and that there is no win for anyone in this situation, that rioting and looting only amplify the angst of the moment… and we know that the present circumstances are merely symptomatic of a racial divide that goes way deeper than we want to acknowledge… or maybe are even willing to acknowledge.
Lord, we come to you now because it is here, in the midst of tragic circumstances that we don’t fully understand, that we cling to the promise of your sovereign goodness and crying out for your help.
We, your church, come confessing that we have been quick to judge not knowing all the facts. We confess that we have been quick to speak, but slow to listen. We confess that we have not been as grieved as you have at the loss of the life of a man you handcrafted in your own image. We confess that maybe we haven’t even thought this was that big of a deal. We, your church, confess that we have not been the agents of racial reconciliation that you have called us to be. And we confess that in our own hearts and lives we have not valued one another as those made in the image of God and those for whom Jesus died.
Lord, we cry out. We need your help. And we need you to start with us, your church. We need you to change us, to forgive us, to sanctify us. We need you to make us, your church, more like Jesus right now for the sake of a world that is broken and hurting. Give us ears to listen to those who feel like they have no voice. Enable us to love even as, in Christ, we are loved by the Father. Embolden us to recognize and attack the systemic issues of race that divide us. Give us the courage to repent to those we have harmed by our actions or by our failure to act, maybe without even knowing. Strengthen us that we might come alongside those who are hurting, sharing their heavy load. And grant us the yearning to seek a reconciliation that only you can accomplish.
Lord, our nation is hurting and needs the hope of the gospel. Our nation needs the church. So Lord, please, build your church. And start with us. Overwhelm us with grace that we might radiate hope and healing to those around us. May grace flow through us. May the church be known as a place of racial healing. May the church reflect the kingdom of God as racial barriers are torn down and people of “every tribe, tongue, people and nation” (Rev 5:9) gather together to worship Holy God.
Lord of peace, we don’t want another ceasefire. We want healing. We want reconciliation. We want peace. So please, give us the peace you promised in your Word (Jn 14:27).
In the name of the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father… in the name of the Prince of Peace (Is 9:6) – Jesus our Lord, we pray, Amen.