A Prayer of Lament for Dallas

I wrote this prayer of lament in the wake of the violence the week following the 4th of July 2016. It’s patterned from Lamentations 1, Psalm 94 and 2 Corinthians 4. It was written to lead into communion. 

How lonely Dallas feels today, a city alone while her children hide!

She has become a hashtag, the great city, the jewel of Texas, reduced to a word trending on Facebook.

Dallas weeps for her children. She hugs them tight and tells them to be safe. She weeps bitterly in the night, wondering if her husband will return.

Be safe, she prays.

The streets of the great city are quiet. Flowers litter the once-peaceful sidewalks, left by mourners who have retreated to their homes to keep vigil behind closed doors.

All her people cry out, “How long?”

“Look at us, Lord! See how afraid we are! See how abused we are! Is this nothing to you?”

The sins of our nation have deep roots that have grown down into our foundation. The seeds were sown by our fathers’ fathers’ fathers’. To pull them is difficult so we have ignored them while they grow like weeds. But now we reap the bitter harvest. Now we sit at a banquet piled high with abominations, with tragedy after tragedy and we are sick of feasting on bitter poison.

For these things I weep: my eyes flow with tears for a comforter is far from us. Where is someone who will revive our courage? How long, oh Lord, must we wait?

How long will the wicked take the lives of your children? How many more days must we wake to the news of another life taken from your world?

How long will pundits pit us against one another for the sake of ratings and profit?

How long will our leaders fill the air with empty words, until none of us can breathe?

How long will our politicians exploit tragedy for their own gain?

How long will fathers be afraid for their daughters and mothers for their sons?

How long before your perfect love casts out our fear?

As we stumble in the dark, grasping for answers, we find our eyes drawn to this communion table. This table that invites us back to the meal you shared with your followers the night before you were killed. This meal that is your body, broken and your blood poured out.

At this table, we find You would not turn a deaf ear to our pain, but rather stepped out of heaven into our very flesh. You took our pain as your own, you embraced death on a cross. Long before the first person was hung from a lynching tree, you were hung on a cross by an evil system. You know our pain because it is your pain.

Long before anyone in Dallas was killed defending rights of innocents, you went to death willingly, for the sake of those you love. You know our pain because it is your pain.

As we come to your table, may we hear your cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

May we know that God is with even the God-forsaken. God sits even in our tombs and waits, anxious and alone, for the Holy Spirit to move, to bring life, to resurrect.

We come to your table as a people pressed on every side but not crushed because we hope for your resurrection. Grieving, but not in despair because we wait for your resurrection. Persecuted, but not abandoned because you wait with us and so we are not alone. Struck down but not destroyed because you are with us.

We come to your table as a people in need of your grace. We hunger for your comfort. We thirst for your presence. May these wafers and juice become a spiritual food that nourishes our Spirits, that enables us to be your people even as we grieve. May we be transformed not by answers, but by the very presence of your Holy Spirit. We wait at your table, we wait in our pain, for the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead to move among us. We pray for resurrection in our spirits. In our community. In our nation.

We offer these prayers. We approach your table, with all our grief, with all our fear. We approach in hope, and in the name of your son, Jesus.

Author: JR. Forasteros

JR. lives in Dallas, TX with his wife Amanda. In addition to exploring the wonders that are the Lone Star state, JR. is the teaching pastor at Catalyst Community Church, a writer and blogger. His book, Empathy for the Devil, is available from InterVarsity Press. He's haunted by the Batman, who is in turn haunted by the myth of redemptive violence.

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