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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.