Issues of race are taking center stage during this time of social distancing. You may wish to use this scripture meditation for an e-conference small group or alone as a personal devotion. Give yourself the time to process the challenging issues you are facing.
“I can’t breathe!” Can you hear this cry of truth? It is hard to listen to and more horrible to watch. There is a widening gap between those that have and those that struggle to have, and it is marked by colour. The unawareness of this gap is called privilege and it is suffocating God’s people.
Remember our story? God’s exodus people were made free so they could breathe in the promise land. God’s incarnated love breathed through an unwed, brown woman who lived in poverty. A Middle Eastern brown man was the Breath of Life and spoke truth to the powerful. Finally, at Pentecost, he shared the breath of life and the people were strong and bold and free.
“I can’t breathe!” Listen. Hear the Spirit’s cry. Look at the divide, the gap and breathe life.
Beginning of the meeting
Quiet your thoughts, still your body, and be open to Jesus who meets us in the reading of scripture.
Matthew 28:16-20 New Revised Standard Version
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
If you are in an e-conference, reflect on each question for a few moments in silence, then invite discussion. Help the group identify common themes and issues. If you are alone, you may wish to record your reflections in a journal. You may wish to share your thoughts, questions and insights in the “reply” space below.
- Have you ever known a time when you couldn’t breathe? Tell your story and what it felt like?
- How has the phrase “I can’t breathe” captured the issues being protested?
- The Gospel passage tells us that all people are to have access to God’s love, presence and power. How does our lifestyle limit others’ fullness of life, their ability to breathe?
Invite the people to hold their breath for as long as they can as you count each second.
Then invite the people into prayer. Ask them to quiet their minds and bodies and become aware of God presence and love and breathe deeply…
With Job of old we cry out:
Everywhere the innocent suffer.
Our desires and efforts achieve us little.
O God, are you good, yet do nothing to help us?
Our answers have holes, and we fall through.
Invite the people into silent prayer.
For what do we come before God this day and cry out and lament? For what do we confess? The people are invited to voice their public laments aloud or in silence.
The prayers continue.
Hear us, O God:
Show yourself, O God:
Give all of us life and help all of us breathe.
Let us pray.
O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope.
Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance.
Where impossibilities close every door and window, grant imagination and resistance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination. Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
May God give you grace never to sell yourself short,
grace to risk something big for something good,
and grace to remember that the world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.
In the name of the Father, and +the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Read about the issues people are protesting against. Become more informed about living and work conditions of people of different races. Bring this awareness to prayer and seek God’s guidance. Take on one thing to make a different and live into the prompting of God’s calling.
We are here together, and we can do this because Christ dwells within us.
Prayer texts are adapted from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2016.