The Language of We; The Language of Us

We’ve sinned a lot, both we and our parents;
    We’ve fallen short, hurt a lot of people. - Psalm 106:6 (MSG)

We. It is a word used too rarely these days. 

The Hebrew Scriptures bear witness to a people who shared their stories in the language of we. Regardless of their individual culpability, or the blame that could or could not be placed on their specific ancestors, their community's past sins were their sins. They did not hide them, and they did not try to shift responsibility. Hundreds of years later, they continued to confess their past and present trespasses together. as a people They accepted the way the dark and light were woven together in their history.

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Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day?
    Wake up! Don’t you care what happens to us?
Why do you bury your face in the pillow?
    Why pretend things are just fine with us?
And here we are—flat on our faces in the dirt,
    held down with a boot on our necks.
Get up and come to our rescue.
    If you love us so much, Help us! - Psalm 44:23-26

Us. It is a word used too rarely these days. 

The Hebrew Scriptures bear witness to a people who shared their stories in the language of us. Regardless of their individual pain, or the blessings they or their specific ancestors had experienced, the suffering of people in their community was their suffering. They did not expect people to carry their burdens alone, nor did they keep the problems of others at arm's length. They lamented together.

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We and us are words of healing. They are words of responsibility and solidarity. As a white person, they are words I need to use when I pray and talk about race. Regardless of my personal intentions, there are systems of racism and a history of oppression in this country I can confess, on behalf and alongside those who have done overt wrongs to perpetrate them. Regardless of my skin color, there are grieving people whose black skin has caused pain I cannot understand, but whose mourning I can join.

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. - Galatians 3:28 (MSG)

We are one. Please join with me today in praying in the language of we, and the language of us.

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A Prayer in the Language of We

For the racism we have knowingly or unknowingly perpetuated,
We confess our sins, Oh Lord.

For the oppression placed on people for the color of their skin,
We ask forgiveness, Oh Lord.

For the ways we have closed our ears to the crying of a people,
We request Your mercy, Oh Lord.

For the silence we have carried in the presence of injustice,
We seek Your face, Oh Lord.

For a future with more love, justice, and equality,
We pray, Oh Lord,
For Christ's light to come and shine the way.

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A Prayer in the Language of Us

Help us, O Lord. Help us.

Comfort us in our grief 
Over our black brothers and sisters killed in the streets.

Rescue us from the injustice
Of a system favors some of us over others of us.

Hear us in our lament
When conversations fall on deaf ears. 
When love is absent.
When a way forward seems impossible.

Rescue us, Oh Lord.
Heal us, Oh Lord.

Come with Your justice, Come with Your light, 
Come with Your love.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come to us.

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I confess that I don't know how to write about race and injustice. I feel uncomfortable posting this. But I would feel even more uncomfortable if I didn't. I believe the love of Christ compels me to care and to try. I apologize if I said something offensive. Please help me see my blind spots if I did. Let's talk with each other and work with each other in the hope of a better future.


Along with recent events, this post was inspired by Psalm 106 as part of my Psalms Journey, an experiment in blogging through the Psalms, one at a time, in order. You can read more about that here

If you would like to join the Psalms Journey, please feel free to write your own post on Psalm 106, and add your link in a comment below.

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Psalm 35 is not for me

I’ve bumped up against one of those Psalms again. You know, one of those Psalms, a psalm that requests God’s vindication and begs for Him to rise up against enemies. A Psalm with verses like

Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me, may ruin overtake them by surprise— may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin. –Psalm 35:7-8

A Psalm that makes me stare at the screen and wonder what in the world to write in my Walk through the Psalms reflection today. {Why did I decide to go through each one? Why didn’t I just pick the easy or pretty ones?} I stare at the words and spit out an irritated prayer, “Just what are we supposed to get out of this, Lord? How does a Psalm like this apply to our lives today?”

And suddenly I realize that this frustrated wondering is a sign of my privilege.

I am not a victim of injustice.

I do not know what it feels like to be a young girl lured into sex trafficking who cannot seem to find a way out to freedom. I do now know what it feels like to be a mother in a war-torn country who faces the daily fear of her children being killed. I do not know what it feels like to squeeze a survival from less than a dollar a day while the leaders of my country swim in excess. I do not know what it feels like to be falsely accused or imprisoned because of my skin color or religious background.

Thousands of people around the world are not like me. They have suffered in ways I never will. Psalm 35 is not for me. It is for them.

I too often read the Bible with an individualistic mindset. I want to know how the words apply specifically, to my life, to my thoughts, to my future. I read the Bible as if I am God’s person, not as if I am one of God’s people. Perhaps the words that feel distant to me are the exact words others need to see. And the kinds of words I should be praying on their behalf.

Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid. - Psalm 35:1-2

Yes, Lord.Contend with those who are contending with your children. Fight with those who are holding your people down. Arise, and come to their aid.

Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation. My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.” - Psalm 35:10-11

O Lord, think of what would happen to your reputation when these wrongs are made right! Rescue. Protect. Redeem. Save. Show your love to all.

Walk through the Psalms is a series reflecting on the beautiful and timeless poetry found in the middle of the Bible. It is an intentional study of God’s Word, grounded in the belief that God gave us the Bible so we could meditate on it, whether that takes us through inspiring or frustrating territory.