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  • Writer's pictureJim Donaher

A Prayer on Juneteenth

Today is Juneteenth.

I had never heard of this until a year ago. It is the day that the slaves in Texas were finally told that they had been freed by President Lincoln. It happened two full years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

That I had never heard of it strikes me as unusual. As I have always had a head for random facts and terms, this seems like one that would have stuck with me. I suspect that I truly had never heard the term or the story before last year, when it was raised as a provocation from the Trump campaign to have a rally in Tulsa – site of a racist massacre 100 years ago – on Juneteenth, an important day to African Americans.

I don’t know much about it, just the name and a high-level summary of events, but I want to understand. I want all heroes to be recognized and all scoundrels called out. I pray for justice, which I know only you can deliver fully.

Lord, thank you for the awareness and my growing understanding of the troubles of many oppressed peoples here in the U.S. I know there is much injustice throughout the world, but there is enough here to keep one busy for a lifetime.

I pray for those activists and transformers who fight for justice and decency to be successful. I pray that they are safe and cared for. I pray that they are treated fairly by the legal system and by society as a whole. I know that the nature of their work is dangerous and frustrating, and I pray that those you have called to fight for justice don’t lose heart and that they keep fighting.

I pray also for the oppressors. For a host of reasons they oppose change and improved justice for all. One reason is greed – the current system has built and maintains their wealth and livelihood. Another is guilt, fearing a just system will recognize and punish their crimes.

It is unpopular to pray for racists, haters, murderers, anarchists, and others. Yet I know that you created all people and that you love them, even if you hate the sins of which they are guilty. I pray that they can be redeemed and that they can learn and grow and move away from their hateful beliefs, words, and actions.

Lastly and most importantly, I pray for those who are oppressed. There are so many who are burdened with all of this extra nonsense, yet they soldier on, day after difficult day. This is not the life you planned for them. You didn’t intend for evil to dog their every step. You never intended to have them fear simply living in the world.

Yet many do. I pray for the innocents who are caught in bad situations and are hurt or killed. I pray for the people who think their only solution is to live off others, whether by stealing, exploiting, or enslaving them with addictions.

I pray for the mothers and fathers who fear for their children and themselves every day. I pray for anyone who has to worry about the safety of their children in school, on the playground, or anywhere else.

I pray for young black men and women because in some places they may be stopped by police for no other reason than their race and age. That they may be punished for nothing. That they may be treated badly and expected to keep their mouths shut, knowing that being respectful and compliant doesn’t guarantee a safe outcome.

Lord, we have so many -isms and -phobias. We need these words to specify the particular flavor of fear, hatred and injustice being discussed. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia. The list goes on. They are forms of hatred driven by fear and ignorance. I pray that you drive out this fear and ignorance.

Perfect love drives out all fear.

-1 John 4:18

I pray that you reach the people who need to know this. That the oppressed are encouraged and reassured that things will be better. I pray that those who have the fear and the hatred and ignorance that feed it, are educated and reassured that there is nothing to fear from any of these people. That there are mostly good people in any subgroup you can name and it never works to vilify everyone in a particular race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other category that people are sometimes jammed into.

Thank you for hearing my prayers and the prayers of your people everywhere. Thank you for using all things for the good of those who love you. Thank you for loving us and creating us to love you back.

I love you very much.

In the saving name of Jesus I pray, AMEN!

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