Listening and Lamentation

This week our nation experienced tragedy again on multiple fronts. First the undeserved killing Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, followed by the mass shooting of Police officers in Dallas. For many of us, these events are deeply felt and have left us with fear, anger, grief, and confusion. Where is God in all of this? How do we heal? What happens next? Will there be justice? This last Sunday Oak Life hosted gathering that will included an extended community conversation and time of lamenting. We may not have answers to all of these questions, but our hope is that we can come together as a family and learn to love like God loves us.

Below are the prayers and liturgies from the morning.  Also, here is a link to our Facebook page where the conversation was live streamed and here is a blog that has some of Chris' words from Sunday.


(adapted from Reverend Dr. Yolanda Pierce)

Let us not rush to the language of healing, before understanding the fullness of the injury and the depth of the wound.

Let us not rush to offer a band-aid, when the gaping wound requires surgery and complete reconstruction.

Let us not offer false equivalencies, thereby diminishing the particular pain being felt in a particular circumstance in a particular historical moment.

Let us not speak of reconciliation without speaking of reparations and restoration, or how we can repair the breach and how we can restore the loss.

Let us not rush past the loss of a mother’s child, a father’s child…someone’s beloved son.

Let us not value property over people; let us not protect material objects while human lives hang in the balance.

Let us not value a false peace over a righteous justice.

Let us not be afraid to sit with the ugliness, the messiness, and the pain that is life in community together.

Let us not offer clichés to the grieving, those whose hearts are being torn asunder.

Let us mourn black and brown men and women, those killed extrajudicially. Let us mourn for our fallen police officers, and pray for the protection of all those who have taken that sacred oath.

Let us together stand in solidarity against violence.

Let us weep at a criminal justice system, which is neither blind nor just.

Let us call for the mourning men and the wailing women, those willing to rend their garments of privilege and ease, and sit in the ashes of this nation’s original sin.

Let us be silent when we don’t know what to say.

Let us be humble and listen to the pain, rage, and grief pouring from the lips of our neighbors and friends.

Let us decrease, so that our brothers and sisters who live on the underside of history may increase.

Let us pray with our eyes open and our feet firmly planted on the ground

Let us listen to the shattering glass and let us smell the purifying fires, for it is the language of the unheard.

God, in your mercy…

Show me my own complicity in injustice.

Convict me for my indifference.

Forgive me when I have remained silent.

Equip me with a zeal for righteousness.

Never let me grow accustomed or acclimated to unrighteousness. Christ have mercy on us and our fallen world. Amen.


Prayer of Lament:

“Gracious and loving God, we come as your children with sorrow in our hearts and lives which are confused and disturbed. This past week has brought death, pain, anguish and distress to so many people. We are struggling to find peace and solace among the devastation and hatred which has exploded in this nation. We have thought that we were good and kind people yet there are so much hate in our cities. We, ask, O Lord, where have we gone wrong? Help us live the words of Paul from Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” As we look to you, Lord, may we find that you are near.  May we find comfort in your love which grieves alongside our grieving community.  God of mercy, would you be everything you are to this church, this city, and this community”


Prayer of Lament and Candle Lighting:

L: Would you join me in a time of lament by praying together the words on the screen that follow the word “people”? As we light this candle and enter into a moment if silence we grieve the undeserved killing and mistreatment of our black sisters and brothers at the hands of those in power.  This has gone on for far too long.  We also grieve the killing of the killing of our police officers and stand against violence of any kind.  God of mercy, may we grieve as you, do for the brokenness in our world.

L: The God of love opens our eyes to see the suffering of all our sisters and brothers
People: And we will see

L: The God of justice opens our ears to hear those who cry out
P: And we will hear

L: The God of healing opens our hearts to acknowledge and share our own pain
P: And we will bear it together

L: In the power of the Spirit we will know the truth
P: And the truth will set us free

L: May this candle be a reminder that though there is darkness, the light of Christ will never burn out. (light candle)
Everyone: Silence