There was never a time when God’s people needed a prophetic voice more than in these days. We keep hearing the phrase, “children locked up in cages,” and we continually feel righteous anger rising up within us. At the same time, we nurse a sense of hopelessness that holds us captive.
We ask, what has happened that has created the environment in which we now live? How do we respond to this toxic environmental of racial division, harsh words and name-calling? Why is there such a blindness to gun violence? Wh is white supremacy now acceptable? When did we stop caring about the lives of immigrant families who flee for safe haven to our country? How did it happen that hate and meanness has all but replaced love and kindness?
As we watch these things happen, we recognize that voices of reason give silent ascent to the evils of the day as our leaders fail to stand for the values we hold dear. Where is their courage? Where is their ability to lead and govern? Where is their willingness to speak truth and champion change? Why are self-proclaimed people of faith giving permission for words and acts of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and just plain out hate?
And as for us — the people of faith who see the ills of our world so clearly — where is our prophetic voice, and when and where will we use it? Yes, we may be feeling the kind of hopelessness that breeds apathy and inaction. That feeling is normal when evil looms large over us and when the wrongs and the injustices we observe far outweigh what is right and just. We are understandably overwhelmed with all that is happening in these challenging days:
The president is escalating his racist attacks against everyone from women of color in Congress to the people of Baltimore.
Attorney General William Barr is bringing back the federal death penalty.
The Trump administration wants to ban new asylum requests and new refugees, closing America’s doors to families fleeing violence and seeking a safe place of refuge.
And almost constantly, Trump’s allies on the religious right, people who call themselves Christians, continue cheering him on, constantly twisting the Gospel to help re-elect him.
It is no accident that these actions came at us all at once. The president and his allies think that if he does enough hateful things all at once, they can overwhelm and silence us. What they cannot seem to understand is that, as God’s people and as followers of Jesus Christ, we are not listening to their message of fear and hatred. Instead, we hear the voice of God proclaiming a call for justice, mercy and compassion. We are listening to Christ’s message of hope and love, and that is our clarion call to act.
Of course, there are so many things we cannot make happen, so many wrongs we cannot right. Many of the remedies for the evil that assails us are out of our hands. Yet, we must not feel disempowered. Though we may feel that we have no recourse and that there is simply nothing we can do to create real change, we must remember that our voices hold a certain power, the power of the Spirit of God. Words are powerful tools. There is deep wisdom in the quotation, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
As for me, I pray that God will grant me a prophetic voice, and that with boldness, courage and perseverance, I will use my voice . . .
To speak truth to power through constant letters, phone calls and messages to members of Congress and to the President.
To confront those who maintain silent ascent to the evils happening at our Southern border.
To challenge a president who speaks ill of people, who demonizes his enemies, who acts with blatant disregard for humanity and who ignores the suffering of the migrant families he has abused.
And to speak with deep compassion and caring to all who suffer injustice, oppression and harm.
Finally, I pray for my brothers and sisters of faith, that God will grant a prophetic voice, and that with that voice, you are able to speak God’s message of Good News with courage, boldness and perseverance.
At times, words find their most powerful expression in music. To that end, I have included the following hymn text, which is actually a prayer. Please use it with my permission in any way that is empowering to you.
God, Give Us a Prophetic Voice
God, give us a prophetic voice that speaks of harm and pain;
A voice that claims injustice wrong, that calls the hurt by name.
God, give us a courageous voice that speaks against all wrong;
A voice that sees when harm is done and sings oppression’s song.
Our Mother God, we seek your grace to offer words of life,
To reach our hands toward hurting hearts who live in endless strife.
We ask for courage to persist when violence owns the day,
When children live in fear and want, protect them, God, we pray.
Empower us for good, we pray, that justice may increase;
Ennoble us to speak your Word that pain may find release;
Give us a voice to speak your truth in places of despair;
Grant wisdom, God, and make us bold with courage, is our prayer.
God, give us now compassion’s voice that we might offer peace;
A voice that comforts through the night, that bids the darkness cease.
God, help us find our voice again when silence words erase,
When evil overtakes the words of righteousness and grace.
Words: Kathy Manis Findley, 2019
Hymn Tune: Kingsfold
Source: English Traditional; English Country Songs, 1893
Copyright: Public Domain