The United States has seen an increase in protests in this past year over the treatment of people of color by police, challenging the country to address questions of systemic and prevalent racism that is so insidious many can’t even recognize it. This struggle is not unique to the United States; it’s happening around the globe where race and ethnicity have created social strife among various peoples and nations.
If your congregation is not located in the United States, consider using this lament in solidarity with the struggle for justice in the U.S. and as a way of calling attention to the racial injustices in your own context. Now, more than ever, we need to cry out to God to help us bring reconciliation in our communities, both locally and abroad. —JB
This “Lament for America” is meant to be spoken by the church during worship with sackcloth and ashes. It was originally used as an introduction to a sermon titled “The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation” and was read by one person. You may choose to use one voice, include a variety of voices as suggested below, or arrange as you see fit.
Voice 1: Lord, how long shall we have to endure the ugly sins of racism? How many more years will we live in this deeply divided land?
Voice 2: People shout in the streets, “Black lives matter!”
Voice 3: Yet others speak with their silence saying, “No, they really don’t.”
Voice 2: Our leaders proclaim, “We need unity, we need peace, we need reconciliation,”
Voice 3: but when it comes time to act they don’t practice what they preach.
Voice 2: People throughout the land declare that we live in a post-racial society,
Voice 3: but then they drive their cars into their segregated neighborhoods filled mostly with people who look just like them.
Voice 1: And to make matters worse, Lord, sometimes we can’t even tell the difference between the Body of Christ and the world. Because Sunday (or “Segregated Day”) is still the most racially divided day of the week.
Voice 2: Lord, you burn inwardly when you see your children—who are called out from every race, tribe, and nation—smile in each other’s face in public
Voice 3: and then slander each other behind closed doors.
All three voices: But you, Lord, are a God of reconciliation.
Voice 1: You are the God who sent your Son to destroy hostility on that old rugged Cross.
Voice 3: When we cry out to you, mighty God, you answer us from your heavenly throne.
Voice 2: The gates of hell have not prevailed against us, because of your powerful right hand.
All three voices: Arise, our Lord! Deliver us, O God
Voice 3: from the sins of a segregated nation
Voice 2: and the heresy of division in your church.
All three voices: Call us to repent
Voice 2: for not loving our brothers and sisters, who we can see,
Voice 3: but claiming to love you, Lord, who we can’t see.
All three voices: Let us weep and wail before your holy altar!
Voice 1: Then and only then can we worship you in Spirit and in truth.