Prayers at Compline — July 10, 2016

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These prayers were offered during the regular service of Compline on Sunday, July 10, 2016 in response to the series of tragic shooting which occurred in rapid succession in Baton Rouge (LA), St. Paul (MN), and Dallas (TX).

Here we are again. Yet again we come together to recognize several tragic losses of life resulting from violence and hate. Yet again we gather to mourn the tyranny that guns hold over us all. Yet again we join to acknowledge the fear we feel for our own safety and the safety of the nation and the world.

Tonight we particularly remember the black men and women who have died at the hands of law enforcement, a list of names far too many to count: Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and so many more. We say their names, and in doing so, we proclaim that black lives matter, we lament the systemic racism that keeps resulting in the blood of black and brown bodies being unjustly shed, and we pledge to work towards a nation in which all people, regardless of race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, are truly safe and free.

Tonight we also remember Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa and Brent Thompson, law enforcement officers who were by all accounts acting as noble public servants, protecting and supporting responsible citizens who were exercising their free right to protest. These officers’ deaths reveal, sadly, the depth of the tensions that are still rife in our country, and serve as one more demonstration of how much reconciliation there is left to do. We laud their bravery and service, we grieve in the wake of lives lost, and we yearn for a future in which peace and hope will prevail.

Lifting before you all of these innocents, and acknowledging that they form only a small portion of the many who suffer throughout the world, we come to you in prayer.

Jesus the Christ, you yourself were an outcast, and you worked on behalf of outcasts throughout your ministry on earth. You spoke against the systems that harmed your people and healed those who were hurt. Hear us this evening as we decry the racism that pervades our common life. Heed our sighs as we bewail the legacy of racial oppression in this land: from slavery to Jim Crow to the recent killings of black and brown individuals by law enforcement officers on our streets nationwide. Open the eyes of the complacent, soothe the wounds of the broken and bruised, and build bridges between us all, so that never again may the blood of our fellow human beings cry out from the ground upon which we walk and so that finally that dream will be accomplished in which black and white and all races will join hand in hand and sit down to eat at the table of justice, equality and peace. Amen.

God, our Refuge and Strength, Protector of all who call upon you: we thank you for all those of any profession who keep your people safe. Bestow them with wisdom, determination and care. Remind them that with great power comes great responsibility. And, as they place their own lives on the line for the protection of your people, shield them with your unfailing strength. Amen.

A prayer for the human family (from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer)

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A prayer for the evening (from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer)

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.