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Prayers and Action for a Hard Week

Sometimes the world seems to dole out more than its fair share of pain. This week, we have watched as the death toll rises in Nepal, surpassing 5,000. As our Nepalese brothers and sisters sleep outside, for fear of aftershocks, wait for medical treatment, look for their loved ones and try to get a handle on what comes next, our hearts ache, but the distance sometimes creates a paralysis of action.

Following the funeral of 25 year-old Freddie Gray, who suffered a spinal cord injury while in police custody and died following failure of the police to acquire medical attention, our brothers and sisters in Christ, in Baltimore, protest, riot, keep vigil, hole-up and cleanup. We speculate, critique, pray, and ponder how there can be peace.

In the midst of the heaviness of this week, in light of our hope in God, and in search of a way to take action, Pastor Shelli offers these possibilities. Use them all, or pick and choose what feeds your spirit.

~Pray~

Reflect – Be still. Inhale and exhale, allowing the breath of God to fill you. Reflect upon the following pictures. Your thoughts do not have to be perfectly formulated. Allow your feelings, your hopes, your sadness, your questions to be heard by God in the quiet of your heart, or murmured aloud. When you feel yourself get distracted, inhale and exhale until your focus and sense of God’s presence in your prayer, returns.

Rescue workers remove debris as they search for victims of earthquake in Bhaktapur near Kathmandu on April 26, 2015. Photo from time.com, Bernat Armangue—AP.

Ten-year-old Robert Dunn uses a megaphone to address hundreds of demonstrators during a protest against police brutality and the death of Freddie Gray outside the Baltimore Police Western District station in Baltimore on April 22, 2015. From time.com, Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images.

Demonstrators and police officers wrestle over a metal barricade outside the Baltimore Police Western District station in Baltimore on April 22, 2015. time.com, Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images.

 

Read – Psalm 130:1-6

Sing – Sing along to the following hymns, or read them as poetry/a contemporary psalm. To hear the music, click on the link that says, “MIDI.”

Pray

~Act~

Have a Conversation – Arrange to have a conversation with a someone you trust of a different race. It may be helpful to set some ground rules. Approach this as a learning opportunity, not a chance to say your peace. (Possible rules: Ask questions for clarification. Make sure you understand; ask back, “Did I hear you say . . . ?” Don’t invalidate your conversation partner’s experience; listen trusting that they’re speaking the truth as they know it, just as you will speak the truth as you know it.) Here are some possible questions to be asked and answered by both parties:

  • When you were in school, who did you sit with? Where did kids/youth of other races, cliques, etc. sit? Why do you think that was?
  • When is the first time you remember recognizing race? When is the first time you remember seeing racism?
  • When is a time you have experienced discrimination based on your race? When is a time your race served as an advantage to you?
  • What does it mean to you to be “colorblind”? Is that “colorblindness” helpful or hurtful?
  • Have you ever experienced fear based upon your race or someone else’s? Is there anything you currently fear based upon your race or someone else’s?
  • What’s the one thing you would most want me to understand about your experience of race? Your hopes, fears, dreams, doubts?
  • Is there somewhere I should go, something I should do, see, or read to better understand your perspective?
  • What’s the question you have for me and my experience of race?

Give – See opportunities for providing aid in Nepal, through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance here.