Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
We gather for worship in the midst of a national crisis, one that has been brewing for some time and reached a tipping point this week. This week, when the number of those who have died from COVID-19 in less than 3 months surpassed 100,000, a disproportionate percentage of which are people of color whom our healthcare system has failed all their lives. This week, when over 40 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance, and those deemed essential workers are, again, disproportionately people of color on the lowest end of the pay scale with insufficient protection to keep them and their families safe.
This week, when we have witnessed the latest killing of an African American man by a whilte police officer in Minneapolis. George Floyd’s death is not an isolated incident, but the latest example of police and vigilante brutality, and disregard for the lives of black and brown people in this country. His death has triggered one of the largest sustained expressions of both peaceful and violent protest that we have seen in decades. The protests are about his death and so much more.
We, the leaders of Washington National Cathedral and the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, add our voices to the collective outrage, grief, and frustration. We add our resolve to those determined that this moment cannot and will not pass without movement toward real and lasting change.
We are followers of Jesus and His Way of Love. We pray daily for the power of the Holy Spirit, whose coming to us we commemorate this day. And we renew our commitment, and that of the institutions we lead, to keep our eyes and energies fixed on addressing the root causes of systemic racism and white supremacy in all its forms, laid bare before us by COVID-19 and the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many more.
This is a crucible moment, when the soul of our nation is a stake. If our leaders cannot meet the challenge of this time then we, as faith leaders, must be among those stepping in the void–and we will–but our nation must come together and elect the leaders we deserve. We need and must insist upon moral character, a commitment to justice, and effective governance from our elected leaders.
Today we gather to pray our prayers of grief and repentance, our prayers for strength and resolve, and to hear the Spirit-inspired call of our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, to choose love.
Scripture is clear that God is not moved by the beauty of prayers that are not accompanied by the power of our deeds–to choose love, and to work for justice.
May God grant us strength and courage for the living of this hour.