Joel Littlepage

Pastor & Pianist

An MLK Lament: Racism, Militarization, & Poverty.

Martin Luther King Jr. once claimed that a "triple threat" posed the greatest danger to human flousishing in American societal life: racism, militarization, and poverty. How true MLK's words still ring in our moment, in our season!

O Lord, Our Lord, 
How majestic is your name in all the earth!
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, 
The moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 
Who are we that you are mindful of us?
Who are we that you care for us?
But you do, O God! You are mindful. You care.
You are the God who executes justice for the oppressed, 
who gives food to the hungry. 
who sets the prisoners free
You look down from heaven and see and hear.
So we cry; we lament; we mourn before you this day:
(Leader): Lord, in your mercy, (People): hear our prayer!

On this day, O God,
We remember Martin Luther King, Jr. and thank you, O God, for his witness.
We lament his murder.
We lament the fact that the violence he preached against took him in the end.
We remember his righteous and prophetic anger at injustice and indifference,
Give us that holy anger, O Lord.
We remember his beautiful vision of a beloved community,
His dream of a loving and just land where oppressors and oppressed would be labels of the past,
Where united meals of fellowship would replace segregated partitions of partiality and inequity.
Give us that vision, O Lord.
We lament the three things that Dr. King himself lamented and warned of at the end of his life:
Segregation, Militarization, and Poverty.
(Leader): Lord, in your mercy, (People): hear our prayer!

On this day, O God, we lament racism and hatred.
We lament before you the whole construct of race in our land! 
Oh what damage it has brought about!
We lament, not that there is array of various skin tones and ethnicities and cultures, 
For you made all men and women of all colors in your image, 
We instead lament that this beautiful diversity has been perversely manipulated to make it somehow easier to disrespect, easier to cheat, easier to isolate, and even easier to kill people of color.
Have mercy!
We lament continued racial inequality in the land:
Lack of access to safety, healthcare, good education, and economic potential.
We lament a system of mass incarceration that is a plague to communities of color.
We lament the heritage of white supremacy that is an abomination to you.
We lament the fact that your body, O Christ, is not one in unity.
We lament that your Church here, particularly white churches in America have failed to be a witness to the truth of your kingdom and has supported segregation, supremacy, and selfish comfort & prosperity instead of being a prophetic voice for love and justice for all! 
(Leader): Lord, in your mercy, (People): hear our prayer!

On this day, O God, we lament militarization and violence.
We cry along with Habakkuk:
“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? 
Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? 
Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? 
Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. 
So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. 
For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.”
We lament the blood that cries out from the ground from violence and murder.
We lament murder and brutality at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve,
Those who are given incredible power over life and death.
We lament decisions too swiftly made to end life instead of finding another way.
How quick the trigger is pulled, O Lord, and how fast a precious life is stripped away!
We lament that people are tried, found guilty, and condemned on the street before they even get a chance to see justice done and receive equal treatment under the law.
Oh how we also lament violence perpetrated against the police or against any community or any peoples, whether born or unborn.
We lament terrorism, both international and domestic,
Whether it is perpetrated by ISIS, or Dylan Roof, or Daniel Holtzclaw, or a drug cartel, or a gang, 
We mourn the fact that people are forced to live in fear and dread.
Shatter the horns of these evil-doers, we pray, 
Vengeance belongs to you, but so does mercy!
Change the heart of those who would seek to kill as you changed the Apostle Paul.
Save us from violence, we pray!
(Leader): Lord, in your mercy, (People): hear our prayer!

On this day, O God, we lament poverty and economic oppression.
As the Psalmist says, we live in a world where the wicked “stealthily watch for the helpless; 
they lurk in ambush like a lion in his thicket; 
they lurk that they may seize the poor; 
they seize the poor when they draw them into their nets.”
We lament the prison of poverty.
We lament unjust lending schemes that prey on the poor and trap them in debt.
We lament that so many have no economic mobility or opportunity in this "rich" country of ours;
that those who are born into poverty will very likely stay in poverty.
We confess and lament that we have spent more time talking about poverty than we have spent alleviating it.
May we, your people, practice hospitality and generosity to the point that we don’t need to call it “radical,” but that it instead would become normal for us as Christians in this age, to love sacrifice and service, as it was normal for you, O Jesus, to be with, eat with, touch, care for, and restore the poor.
We lament food deserts and lack of access to healthcare.
We lament rhetoric that blames poverty on those trapped in poverty.
We remember your word, O God, that “Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;”
“but he who is generous to the needy honors God.”
We mourn and lament drug addiction, mental health crises, and broken families.
(Leader): Lord, in your mercy, (People): hear our prayer!

Finally, O God. We lament the darkness that we cannot even bear to name: a world bruised and broken by the Fall. On this dark day,

(Leader): Lord, in your mercy, (People): hear our prayer!