White Gunman Kills 9 Inside Black Church
A Prayer of Lament by mary kate morse
God, what is wrong with us
What is wrong with us…
How does black and white lead to red?
Red on the rock of an ancient church,
Red on the body of a beloved pastor,
Red on old and young,
Woman and man,
Blood on the floor and on our hearts and hands.
God, what is wrong with us
What is wrong with us?
Our sin too.
Red on the wood of a cross,
Red on the body of our Lord,
Red poured out for us,
Blood on the cross and on our hearts and hands.
We kneel on the rock and call your name.
Come out of the tomb for us this dark day.
Still the insanity of our hearts and hands.
Holy Spirit pour out on us.
Pour out on us.
We circle together in prayer
Around this ancient church
Around our brothers and sisters.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Heal us and call us.
Heal our hearts
Call us to stand as black and white
That red should flow no more.
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We pray to you today, oh Lord
Our hearts breaking, eyes weeping, souls stirring
We pray for our enemies, we pray for those who persecute us
We pray to the God of all Comfort to comfort our brothers and sisters in their mourning
We pray that you would bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes
We pray that you would give them the oil of joy instead of mourning
We pray that you would give them a garment of praise in place of a spirit of despair
But America is different. America is violent. America was founded upon violence, it is addicted to violence, it sanctifies the capacity for violence. The twin original sins of America — indigenous genocide and African slavery — have still not been fully owned and confessed. (The government sponsored eradication of Native Americans is virtually never mentioned — mostly because the genocide was so effective.) We keep hoping that someday we can just forget about this sordid past. But we cannot. We cannot because it is still with us.
The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it.
I wrote on twitter that every church in America should be talking about this shooting on Sunday. But you know what? My real fear isn’t that churches will ignore the shooting. My fear is that churches will underestimate it.I fear that it will alter one Sunday’s plans and nothing else. I fear that the words will be reduced to one lone shooter, to one silent moment, to one prayer. I fear that it will change nothing about every Sunday thereafter, that it will inspire nothing of lasting significance, that no one will make a declaration to kick racism out of the pews. My real fear is that this moment will slip by just as so many others have, that white churches will refuse to see their own reflection. Or that they will and simply turn away.
LORD, my heart is deeply grieved over this tragedy which took place within a historic institution that serves as a refuge and force of reconciliation and justice. Guide us Jehovah as we continue to pilgrim through a land of violence, division, and captivity to the matrix of race. May the Church rise in this tragic moment as a movement of transformation.