Joining people all around our country, I grieve over the horrific massacre that occurred at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. My heart is broken over this racially motivated hate crime, and my heart goes out to all who are suffering from this heinous act of violence.
When will there be an end to all this violence? What can we do as individuals and as faith communities to help end the violence? We can pray, we can speak out, and we can act to help end racism. We can come together across races to work together for peace, to learn from one another, and to engage in mutual relationships that give equal value and respect to each race. We can advocate and take action for gun control. We can pray and work to transform our culture of violence to a culture of peace and love.
We can write, preach, and sing our laments over the violence, and our hopes for a world of peace. I offer this hymn as a lament and a prayer for violence to end.
How Long, Christ-Sophia
Psalm 74:3-7; Psalm 94:3-7
How long, Christ-Sophia, how long must we wait?
O when will the violence and suffering abate?
The children are crying; O come to their aid;
our pleadings and prayers on your altar we’ve laid.
How long, Christ-Sophia, how long will it be
till justice will triumph so all can be free?
O surely you feel all the anguish and pain;
for you also suffer; rejected you’ve lain.
Arise, Christ-Sophia, and help us, we pray;
with you we will labor to bring a new day;
with you we will challenge the forces of wrong,
till we overcome with your love, deep and strong.
Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton sung to the tune of “My Jesus, I Love Thee”
I offer this hymn video as a lament and an expression of hope that peace and justice will come.
This hymn draws from the imagery in Isaiah 42. The prophet Isaiah pictures God crying out “like a woman in labor” over injustices: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant” (vs. 14). We all labor and often suffer as we labor. Sometimes we suffer because our labor for nonviolence and justice seems in vain. Sometimes our work is rejected, demeaned, trivialized, discounted, criticized. This picture of Deity as a woman suffering in Her labor can encourage and strengthen us with the assurance that our labor takes part in God’s labor, and Her labor takes part in ours.
Also, we can find hope as we join with Her in co-creating peace and new life: “See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them” (Isaiah 42:9).
This video comes with the prayer that it will bring strength as we labor together for racial justice and nonviolence. Also, may it give us hope that we do not labor alone and that our labor is not in vain. God labors with us, and She will help bring new life from our labor for justice and peace.