I wrote this prayer for the Williamsburg Christian Church family, adapted and revised from one written by Peter Englert. If you want a brief sketch of what Juneteenth means I encourage you to read the great article by my sister and WCC member Laura Hill here. You can catch a full history here and here.
God of all peoples, all nations and Lord of our eternal holy nation, your eternal Kingdom, today we remember that we are a people of this land living in this time and place in the United States.
We give you thanks as we remember.
Today, we commemorate the end of slavery in United States of America.
Lord, thank you for your grace and keep us attentive to our need for grace.
We remember how this day reminds us of the progress made. But we remember how this day also reminds us of the progress yet to be made.
Lord, keep us attentive.
We celebrate the freedom of black lives in our nation.
Lord, we praise you and give you thanks.
We grieve that we have not fully and correctly reconciled a history of racism in our nation.
Lord, turn our hearts toward you.
As the eternal triune God and Creator you created each person in Your triune image. In every person there remains a longing for eternal love, for eternal community, and for eternal liberation, all manifesting in a longing for love now, community now, and liberation now.
Lord, help us feel it in ourselves. Help us feel it for others.
As we look to Jesus our Liberating King, you summoned us to practice the greatest commands of loving You with all our heart, souls, minds and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. You have also said that if we do not love, we have not experienced Your love. By Your love for us compel us to love each other.
Lord, open us to your love and convict us by your love.
On this day of freedom, we celebrate with all people of goodwill that we might walk together towards justice for all. Breathe into us your eternal breath, that we may never tire of joining you to work for human flourishing for all people, but most especially, those brothers and sisters whose lives have been marked by the trauma of enslavement, brutality, and racial injustice.
God, we know and have seen your goodness, and because of it, we cling to the hope that unity and liberation for all are within our grasp by your love and through our obedience to love. Continue to show us Your goodness, that we may have the courage and strength to bear witness to your kingdom with humility and grace.
So, Lord, in the spirit of the prophets and a humility becoming as followers of the crucified Christ, and in humble reflection of the mothers and fathers of this land who actively oppressed and enslaved,
As your royal priesthood we confess these sins and repent.
In ways we have been indifferent or complacent, insincere or complicit,
As a people for your possession we confess these sins and repent.
The healing and reconciliation we desire comes from the gospel.
Lord, may Your healing come.
On Juneteenth this year, we ask You to guide Your Church throughout our nation. May the good news of the gospel compel us to love each other. May the teachings of King Jesus match the practice of our lives. May a new empowerment of Your Spirit liberate us from all forms of pride and idolatry and unite us together.
In the name of Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever, amen.