The words have been said so many times that they sound hollow. “Our prayers are with those grieving their loved ones . . . We pray for justice . . . Please pray that the violence stops.” Yet, the deaths in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Dallas, Texas, call for the continuance of such prayer. They also require action.
First the prayer:
God, we pray:
- for the families and friends of civilians Alton Sterling and Philando Castile who were killed by police officers in Baton Rouge and St. Paul last week;
- for the families and friends of police officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa who were killed by a sniper in Dallas this past Thursday;
- for police officers around the nation, the vast majority who serve honorably as they work to provide law and order;
- for the accountability of police officers who misuse their position and power;
- for those who fear judgment and oppression due to the color of their skin and/or economic status;
- for forgiveness for our role in the racism that plagues our society;
- for the healing of the brokenness of our nation;
- and for the end of the escalating violence within our country.
We give these persons and situations over to you, God, entrusting them to your care. We also ask that you move us to action that transforms us individually and as a society. Amen and Amen.
Then the action.
- refuse to be afraid of one another;
- demand justice for those who have been wronged;
- reach out to those in the law enforcement vocation, the great majority who carry out their work ethically and professionally;
- build relationships with persons of other races and backgrounds;
- address systemic issues in our society that lead to disproportionate incarceration of young black males;
- talk and act in ways that defuse anger and violence.
Yes, two responses are needed in the face of last week’s violence: prayer and action. May we make a positive difference in our communities, nation and world as we pray and act in Christ-like ways.
As always it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference