While I was in Jerusalem less than three weeks ago, a rainbow arched across the sky and spilled onto the land irregardless of international law, race, history, or religion.
I thought of Genesis 9 and the fact that the rainbow has long been a sign of God’s promise for every living creature, all humankind and the animal world. Never again shall such destruction ravage the earth. I thought of the fact that the bow is a traditional weapon of war, but here it is transformed as a symbol of peace, God’s unconditional commitment with all living creatures, that massive destruction will not have the last word…ever again.
It’s a beautiful promise and yet…
Massive destruction still occurs. The weapons of war have not been transformed. Sometimes it makes one wonder if God has forgotten the promise.
Or is it we who have forgotten the promise? Is it we who fail to transform weapons of war into instruments of peace? Perhaps God is always at work creating a human rainbow, a people empowered by God’s Spirit who work for the greater good, who know something about unconditional love and who cast their glow on the hurting places in the world, insisting that massive destruction does not have the last word.
Today I find myself wishing for a Rainbow to shine on the city of Ferguson and beyond. One can’t simply pray a rainbow into existence, but one can pray for the human rainbow that stretches from city to city, land to land. One can pray and act in solidarity with those who rise up and challenge acts of destruction and brutality, and who refuse to let these things have the last word.
In August, soon after the killing of Michael Brown, I shared the following prayer in worship. I invited us to raise our hands, which I know is out of many people’s comfort zones. This was simply an invitation to join the millions across the country who are raising their hands, calling for reforms in our justice and criminal systems and calling for an end to systematic police brutality. Many of you asked for a copy of the prayer. Here is part of that prayer. (You can find the entire prayer here.)
I Raise My Hands: A Prayerful Response to Ferguson
By Osheta Moore
When asked why I raise my hands, I say a number of things:
“I raise my hands in surrender.” When life’s too much and fear crouches before me, claws at the ready to shred my confidence… I raise my hands to God.
Today, I raise my hands not to worship but to pray for the community of Ferguson and the families of Mike Brown, Eric Gardner, and John Crawford.
Today, I raise my hands. These holy hands made holy to do the holy work of reconciliation in this sin-stained world. I raise my hands and ask God to redeem the violence, redeem the suffering, redeem the heartbreak in Ferguson. I raise my hands to thank him that he has overcome but to ask him to come, be present, and bring peace. With my hands in the air I pray, “By your wounds we are healed, Lord. Usher in healing for grieving families and the community of Ferguson.”
Today, I raise my hands, because perfect love casts out all fear and because Abba Father sees the suffering of his children. I raise my hands to bear witness to my brothers and sisters who were tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets. I raise my hands because my love for them is restless. I can’t do anything tangible with these hands, but raise them high. Lord, we are restless for change and anxious for hope. We are witnesses of injustice. We are the women at the foot of the cross, empower us to stay through the torment so that we can be present to bind up wounds and then—see resurrection.
I raise my hands to God who out of his great love for his children heard their cries and carved a path towards justice when there seemed to be no way. Make a way in Ferguson, MO, Lord. Make a way and drown the Enemy of your peace in your waves of Justice.
Today, I raise my hands because the truth is Black Lives Matter and black kids don’t have to be college-bound for their deaths to be tragic.
I raise my hands for the truth that Jesus identified with the poor, broken, marginalized, and ignored. I raise my hands because Jesus is our Truth and he will make us free. I raise my hands because it is so true that He will empower us to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks— we need only identify ourselves as willing truth-tellers. So, I lift my hands to receive the necessary tools of this Heavenly alchemy: a humble heart, listening ears, love-spun courage and most of all, open palms that refuse to cling to bitterness, hate, or fear.
Today I raise my hands in surrender. I can’t do this work on my own. I can’t even pray for reconciliation on my own—I need to the Holy Spirit to come and take my jumbled, incoherent words and turn them into something powerful. Lord, place a terrible fear in the heart of the Enemy, and advance your Kingdom of Peace where Violence has made it’s camp.
I am but one women with a heart for the many who are sweltering in the racially charged climate of our country— nevertheless, I raise my hands.
I raise my hands in surrender.
I raise my hands in protest.
I raise my hands in holy anger.
I raise my hands in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, MO.
Will you raise your hands, too?