My name is Rev. Laura Everett, I serve as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches.
Our prayers are not magic spells, but pleas to God and words to ourselves. May these words move and change us.
Before the Almighty, we pause to pray for Charlottesville and for healing.
The wounds of Charlottesville are deep. The roads of that city, every city are covered in the scar tissue of neighborhoods divided. The roads of that city, every city have blood deep in the soil.
Charlottesville saw, our nation saw white nationalism and hate on parade. God, we can deny no longer we need healing for the original racist sins of this nation. For those who would equivocate or deny in what we saw, Lord, change hearts, and if they will not change, bind tongues.
From Emancipation Park to Main Street, along the pedestrian Mall to 4th Street. From the large mansions that once housed white slave owners and the woods where formerly enslaved peoples hid, from Jefferson’s Monticello to the new apartments where recent refugees resettle, from the University to the train tracks, down East Jefferson Street past Congregation Beth Israel, the oldest continuously utilized synagogue in Virginia, to Water Street where a bar called Triangles used to be a safe place for queer folks to gather, through the unincorporated parts of Ablemarle County and back into the historic black neighborhoods of Vinegar Hill, Garrett Square, and Ridge Street, we saw hate on parade. God, we entrust to you the City of Charlottesville. Heal Charlottesville, O Lord.
Our Great Physician, there are many who need healing:
• We entrust to you every black child who snuck a looked out a window to see those who would do her harm.
• We entrust to you every Civil Rights elder whose head and hands still bear the scars of protests decades ago, who now grieve we are walking down this road again.
• We entrust to you every Holocaust survivor who reels at the images of Nazi walking down American streets.
• We name before you, DeAndre Harris, a 21 year old black man who was beaten. Heal him. Quicken the arrest of those who wielded bats and pipes.
• We name before you each of the 19 hit and hurt on 4th Street as a car was used as a weapon. We give those to you whose names are unknown, who bear the scars of protest.
• We name the UVA students who stood between terrorists and the Rotunda’s Jefferson Statue. We name the weary students, who want to go to class free from intimidation and fear.
• We name the journalists who risked their own safety to document and report in the service of justice and truth.
• We name the volunteers, the medics, the officers, and all who served their fellow humans in the work of justice and healing.
Oh God, our beginning and our end, we trust you welcome the dead into that place where there is no pain or suffering, no racism or hatred.
Receive, O Lord, the Charlottesville martyrs:
• Heather Heyer, 32
• Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48
• Trooper Berke M. M. Bates, 40
For their families, for their communities, for all who loved and miss them. God, may your healing come quickly. May their names not depart from our tongues.
The Christian Scriptures share that Jesus of Nazareth asked people, “Do you want to be healed?” Jesus did not presume that we would be ready to be freed from all that ails us. Many of us have grown accustomed to the sickness of white supremacy.
God, search us. Help us to see the ways we have denied the goodness in ourselves and the goodness in others. Teach us to notice where we ourselves are complicit in systems of violence and oppression. Heal us, heal us O Lord.
God, this road to freedom is long. We need trustworthy companions for the journey to freedom. We need people of good will to prioritize the most vulnerable. In this moment, we ask You Lord to protect black lives.
For the wounded in Charlottesville, for the healing in every place, we pray. Amen.