“Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,” has been on repeat in my prayer life today. It’s my go-to prayer when I simply don’t have words for the indescribable ugly that occurs in our world. I’ve been praying that prayer more frequently, it seems. There is so much tragedy around us. What happened last night in South Carolina is devastating.
Today my prayers have sounded something like:
Lord have mercy on South Carolina.
Christ have mercy on our nation.
Lord have mercy on the black community.
And Christ have mercy on the white community, too.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m praying for a different kind of mercy for the black community than I am the white community. There are, after all, different kinds of mercy.
For the black community, I am praying for the sort of mercy that is kindness or help given to people who are in a desperate situation. I cannot imagine the grief that the families of victims are experiencing today, and I cannot imagine the collective grief of the black community as they grieve yet another loss; another act of violence; another string of injustices from the justice system. I’m praying for my friends as they are having conversations with their kiddos tonight about why people with dark skin keep getting hurt in our country. I’m praying for a mercy I can’t comprehend for grief and anger that I will never feel. I’m thankful for a Holy Spirit who can intercede when we don’t have words, because I don’t have the right words. Christ have mercy on the hurting tonight.
For my white community, particularly my white Christian community, I am praying for the sort of mercy that is kind or forgiving treatment of someone who should be treated harshly. Lord have mercy for our ignorance, for our out-of-place opinions, for our lack of ability to grieve with others, for our lack of perspective. Christ have mercy on us that it takes a shooting in a church to get our attention when shooting in the streets should have awoken our cries for justice for our neighbors. Lord have mercy on those of us have called this “religious persecution” when we should be calling it what it is: Racism and hatred and terrorism. Christ have mercy on us for posts and comments that build up walls rather than tear down walls. Lord have mercy when we have been passive-ists and not peacemakers.
I long for a day when I don’t have to pray separate prayers for the black community and the white community – I don’t like segregated prayers but tonight, I don’t know how else to pray to our merciful God.