Scripture: Matthew 23:37
37 Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn’t let me.
In this passage, we find Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem after declaring woes on the city’s political and religious leaders. He expresses sorrow for Israel’s continual rejection of God’s call for repentance. He is grieved over Jerusalem as the place where prophets and His followers were killed.
In Jesus’ lament, he refuses to spiritualize, explain away, ignore or deny the depth of lawlessness and rejection of God’s words. What was Jesus’ lament really about? He was speaking truth to power– he was talking about systems of injustice and the devastation these systems cause. Also, he prophetically lamented over the reality of His chosen people ignoring and remaining silent over these injustices.
Looking at injustice is difficult, and oftentimes we do not want to look at it or talk about it. We are called to lament over all forms of injustice, including racial injustice. But even if you are not ready to lament over the injustice of racism, through prayer, God grants us His sorrow over injustice. He gives us the gift of lamenting. Our responsibility is simply to ask God to give us his heart. The best place to begin our asking is to pray words of lament back to him.
Rarely do we think about lament as a gift. But it is! Lament forces us to look at painful, and oftentimes tragic events squarely and honestly. It means that we have to “tarry.” Tarry means to abide or stay in a place until a change within your spirit or your thinking occurred, or until the circumstances change. We have to tarry in the painful and tragic history of our country until we understand the deep injustices that has occurred and continues to impact marginalized people. This is the first step toward true reconciliation.
- What areas of injustice have you ignored or been silent about? Take some time to pray and ask the Lord for forgiveness and ways to get involved in dismantling the injustice.
- What area of racial injustice (i.e. mass incarceration, housing, education, etc.) can you commit to “tarry” (spend considerable time) with until a change comes?
Soul Care Practice
Become aware of God’s loving presence and imagine Jesus saying these words to you: “But you wouldn’t let me…” Talk with Jesus about any thoughts, reflections, challenges, and emotions that come up within you. How can you embody these words and follow Christ in your home, neighborhood, and workplace?
Read Jesus’ words again slowly: “But you wouldn’t let me…” How did these words shape and guide you today? Pray your thoughts, desires, needs, struggles, and joys from today. As you go to bed, rest in God’s presence.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Written by John Williams, Director of the Fellowship Center for Racial Reconciliation.