Below is an excerpt from Rally: Communal Prayers for Lovers of Jesus and Justice and a free downloadable litany written by Osheta Moore.
I’m sitting in a dark room listening to Yo Yo Ma and crying over the death of another Black teen I saw on the news—this one for playing his music too loudly. I’m remembering the teen boy in my community who was killed in a drive-by shooting and how the kids at the center where I worked grieved so deeply for him. I’m angered by migrant children dying of thirst and homeless people dying of exposure. I’m confused by the death of a mother whose daughters are still toddlers. I want to honor these lives by grieving their deaths well, but I’m overcome. I’m trying to remember Jesus—not only as the crucified one but also as the victor over sin and death.
In reality, grief is always breathtaking and core-shaking. Grief takes us completely out of our depth—no matter how much we try to prepare. Wearing sackcloth and ashes, lamenting and fasting, pausing and praying feel like the only appropriate responses. How do we carry our grief to Jesus when it’s embedded in our soul?
As followers of Christ, we are not in uncharted territory. Jesus warns us, “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33). He reminds us, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believes in me, even though they die, will live” (John 11:25). When grief comes, I want to acknowledge this truth while also not rushing to the solution of my pain too quickly. I don’t want Jesus to be victor quite yet. I want to know that he sees and shares my grief. So I think about the death of his beloved friend Lazarus and how he himself wept. I think about how death moved the Savior to tears.
I wrote this litany to remind us that though we lay our loved ones to rest and we feel a myriad of emotions, not a single one of them is foreign and unseen by Jesus. So take heart, friends. Let’s gather close to our people and proclaim the goodness of our God in spite of our loss.
Osheta Moore is a Los Angeles writer and podcaster who has consistently been a voice for peacemaking, justice, and racial reconciliation. She is one of the contributors to Rally: Communal Prayers for Lovers of Jesus and Justice (Fresh Air Books, August 2020).
For a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism, click here.
I could not have found The Upper Room Moments of Prayer (on Facebook Live) sooner. For it is during these moments of centering spiritual practices, meditating on the words of scripture, praying with and for the world, that I find moments of transcendence, hear whispers of peace and hope, see glimpses of truth and justice, behold visions of love and beauty amid all the stark realities that are around me.”