A prayer for our city from Rev. Bob Henderson

Rev. Bob Henderson shared the following prayer during Sunday morning worship services on Sept. 25. We are posting it here in response to requests.

O God, our strength in ages past, our hope for years to come, we lift our hearts to you this morning longing for the consolation of your love. In this hour and in the days ahead, may your voice ring our ears and echo across our city, reminding us that our help comes from you -- our strength to love, our capacity to do the hard work of justice, and that the possibility of reconciliation and the sweet fruit of peace is your vision for this world. We grieve this morning for the loss of life, Terrence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott, and Justin Carr, human beings made in your image, whose lives matter deeply to you. We pause to give thanks for their lives, and to pray for their families, that even in this time of fractious anger and frustration, our community would gather around these grieving families.

And, as people of tremendous privilege and station -- most of us -- we pause to pray for black women and black men who over many generations have lived with such courage, dignity and determination, as they have labored for freedom from bondage, as they have fought for the abolition of slavery, as they have marched for civil rights, and as they continue to lead in the struggle in this country to be treated with dignity and respect. May we learn from them, be friends with them, and bravely join forces with them in causes that honor you and your kingdom's priorities.

Lord God, even amidst the anger and frustration of so many, the divisive voices shouting past another, defending precious stronghold at the expense of relationship and peace, remind us too of the goodness and innocence still held in the hearts of the young. Make us stronger to lead them to build a world full of love and compassion, hope and promise. Let us be stewards of future generations and tell stories of goodness and giving so that they might remember more than stories of hatred and fear. May they not be shaped only by the broken world they inherit but by the compassion that went ahead of them, that together we might all claim that goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, truth is stronger than lies.

We would not pause this day without also remembering those who carry heavy responsibilities. And so we pray for those whose public responsibilities are grave, for our police chief and mayor, may their decisions lead to justice for all and their actions to healing. For our law enforcement officers, many of whom this week endured taunts and accumulated anger. May you heal their hearts and strengthen their souls, reminding them, Lord, and us, that we are an interconnected community in need of each other. And we pray for Officer Vinson that you would grant him and his family extra measures of grace and mercy in this tremendous time of trial.

As we go forth into the unknown, future grant us wisdom, lest what we do in the name of justice is simply human vengeance. Grant us perseverance, as well, dear God, not to give up the good fight but to be vigilant in our work that demonstrates your reconciling love in this world, even at the risk of our own discomfort and loss. And finally, help us to remember that who we are is not dictated by what has been done to us but by what has been done for us. Jesus Christ died not that we might hate but that we might love and serve friends and neighbors, strangers and enemies alike. Remind us, God of grace, that before there were stories of hate, you told stories of creative goodness; before we were broken we were whole.

We realize the journey ahead is different now, and for some that feels uneasy. But remind us that no matter what road we travel, there you will be, just as you were for your people Israel, just as you were for Moses in the wildness, just as you were for Jesus as he carried his cross to Golgotha, just as you were on the road to Emmaus, waiting to be recognized, willing to come in and be with us. So we ask now that you be our keeper, our sister's keeper, our brother's keeper, by enshrouding our lives with your love. Let your eye watch over our going out and our coming in. Let your arm ever stretch toward us and your everlasting light lead us forward from this time forth and forevermore. For we pray in the name of Christ who taught us to pray.