A Cry for Racial Justice
A Letter to Pittsburgh Presbytery from
Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge
Monday, June 1, 2020
How long, O Lord, how long?
Words fail us, as we grieve the horror of black lives lost savagely, cut short in recent weeks by police officers and vigilantes recklessly exercising their power. George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. They join a great cloud of witnesses. Witnesses against the perversion of justice, against the wanton disregard of the dignity of human lives that are clothed in black skin. Witnesses against the perpetration of what Jim Wallis calls “ America’s original sin .” Racism. Its knee is resting on the necks of black and brown people across our land. And it refuses to let go. And these witnesses’ blood cries out, “No longer!”
You will receive shortly an eloquent and heart-rending letter from Ralph Lowe, our Director of Justice Ministries, crying out with them, “No longer!” Ralph’s letter is urgent reading for all of us, especially all of us who are white, who must likewise cry out, “No longer!”
I offer for the sake of these witnesses, and on behalf of all of us who claim to follow Jesus, a prayer of lament, of supplication, of repentance, of solidarity. Please pray with me.
“How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue us from their ravages, our lives from the lions!” (Psalm 35:17) “O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?” (Psalm 94:3)
God of grace, and God of glory, on Thy people pour Thy power. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the facing of this hour.
This Pentecost, more than ever, we need an outpouring of the Spirit’s power that breaks in with Your Word, enabling us truly to hear each other across all our language barriers. This Pentecost, more than ever, we need for You to pour out Your Spirit on all our flesh – black and brown and white, old and young, rich and poor, humble and exalted. Our hearts cry out for a new Pentecost. Come, Creator Spirit, come upon us in power! Dismantle all that we have erected to keep ourselves safe from each other, safe from You.
Lo, the hosts of evil round us scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways! From these fears that long have bound us, free our hearts to love and praise.
You have called us to be united in our Lord, no longer Jew nor Greek, no longer slave nor free, no longer male nor female. Yet we indulge ourselves in retreating to safe cloisters of people just like us. God, have mercy on us. Shake us loose from our complacency, from our disregard for those who suffer.
Comfort the grieving families of your precious children George, Ahmaud, and Breonna, and the many witnesses before them whose blood has been spilled capriciously, unjustly. May the Spirit of the Lord who came upon Jesus to bind up the broken fall upon us anew, empowering and motivating us to proclaim deliverance to captives, good news to the poor, and freedom to the oppressed. This we pray in the name of and for the sake of the One whom you sent to proclaim peace, to break down all the walls of hostility, and to bind together all who call upon Your name.
The Pittsburgh chapter of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus is sponsoring a silent vigil in protest against racial injustice this coming Wednesday, June 3, at noon outside the East Liberty Presbyterian Church . All are invited to join there in solidarity. Please watch the presbytery calendar for details of subsequent vigils through the month of June.