In lieu of a statement, we offer a prayer.
This interfaith prayer was offered Wednesday night at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston, as Christians, Muslims, and Jews gathered in vigil to grieve so much: the recent massacre at a gay nightclub on Latin Night in Orlando, the one-year anniversary of the slaughter of 9 people at Bible Study at Mother Emmanuel AME in Charleston, and the murder last week of student at a Boston Public School, Boston’s 14 homicide this year. We invite you to share, adapt, and use this prayer in your own communities. At the end of the prayer, we’ve included statements from religious leaders in Massachusetts and some additional resources. Over the past few days, across Massachusetts, you have hosted community vigils, outward signs of God’s transformative love to a weary and wounded world. Thank you, Church. I am so grateful for your witness.
If you hear the call to prayer in the clanging of cathedral bells, come.
If you hear the call to prayer in the silence of a sanctuary, come.
If you hear the call to prayer in the chords of Hammond B3 organ, come.
You who hear the call to prayer chanting “si se puede,”
You who hear the call to prayer on the picket line, on the bread line, on the Orange Line,
You who hear the call to prayer as the last bell reverberates against the walls of Boston Public Schools, you who hear the call: Come.
If you’ve heard the call to prayer from Mount Sinai blown through the shofar,
If you’ve heard the call to prayer from the muezzin atop the minaret,
If you’ve heard the call to prayer in the depths of dark basements, where dance binds and bass pulses through our bodies fully alive, come.
In each call, in every call, the Holy answers back: You are heard.
Beloved, beautiful people, called and gathered, Let us pray:
Holy One, you know our suffering. Your beating heart pulses with grief. You dance with us. You study with us. You weep with us now.
Our idolatry of guns threatens to destroy every body, every sanctuary, everyone we love. We are awash with violence as even the sanctuaries of black church, gay clubs, and public schools have been violated.
You know our divisions and our despair. Take our brokenness. Take our fear that there is not enough time, enough television coverage, enough energy to attend to all our suffering. We trust this night that you are big enough to hold it all. We trust this night that you can bind up the brokenhearted and set the oppressed free. Give us confidence to trust also tomorrow.
We pray for each person who has been followed around a store, pulled out of line at the airport, dropped the hand they were holding, walked home with keys like daggers in our hands. God, we share a common experience of being unwelcomed bodies in hostile spaces. More than mere tolerance, we pray for reconciliation and peace.
We pray you knock down the structures of oppression in our country and in our own hearts. God, give us the eyes to see each of your children full of equal dignity and equal worth, fearfully and wonderfully made. Root out those far corners of our heart where our worst prejudices lurk. Remove from us any spirit of entitlement.
Give us confidence and faith, O God, so that in the words of our President, “When they go low, we go high.”
When they try to divide and pit people of color, against Muslims, against queer folk, we unite.
When they deny our demand for a seat at the table, we bring our own folding chairs.
When they offer us half-truths and cowardice and say that this vision of peace is impossible, we bring our whole hearts.
Because the devil is a liar. He’ll tell you it can’t be done. He’ll keep your expectations low, to just a few shootings, just a few assaults, to a political system that will never pass gun reform.
He’ll tell us we can’t pay attention to racism, and homophobia and sexism, and Islamaphobia in a city with the nation’s widest income inequality all at once. They’ll tell us the best we can do is crumbs at the table, when know God offer a banquet with room enough for all.
“When they go low, we go high.” We. Go. High. We lift our voices high. We send our prayers high. We raise our flag high. We hold our heads high. We demand high standards from our elected leaders as we ban assault weapons in this country. With our Almighty God who judges from on high, when we go high, we rise. And we cannot rise, we will not rise, unless and until, we all rise together.
Oh God, guide our steps. Transform our hands, our hearts, our tongues in the ways of peace. Let not a word slip from our lips that would denigrate any of your beloved children. Kindle in us anger at structures and systems that hold your people down. Make us brave to commit our whole lives to the liberation and healing of all, and not just those who look most us. Reconcile us to one another, and to You. Set before our eyes a vision of “a new, transformed society, not (just) an equal opportunity in a dehumanized one.” Give us strength for the journey, and companions for the road.
We know you by many names, I cling to you again this night in the person of Jesus the Christ, who took on a body so that we might know our whole selves to be blessed and beloved.
Let all who love and hope in love say, Amen.
Statements from religious leaders in Massachusetts and other resources: