Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Praying the DOJ Report on Ferguson -- A Great Litany of Lament

As I spent time today reading the report of the Department of Justice on the Ferguson Police Department, it was clear to me that it is not just an indictment of one city, but of a nation broken by deep divisions of race, class and privilege. It is the story of one city but reflects the voices that are heard in cities throughout our nation.

It is, in fact, a record of the lament of people of color in this country who have been crying out for decades and even generations.

It is, in fact, a Great Litany of sin. A Great Litany of lament.

So that is what I have done with it. I have turned it into a Great Litany.

If you click here  you can download what I am calling "A Litany of Lament for the American Police and Court Systems ... Based on the U.S. Department of Justice Report on the Ferguson Police Department." 

It is long and arduous ... just as the report is. There are 89 different laments based on the sin revealed in the report. There are 29 petitions for transformation based on the recommendations of the report. Interspersed are 11 readings from the report of personal stories of oppression that remind us of the human face of all of this. Each lament, petition and reading is noted with the page number and paragraph it comes from in the report.

It is designed to be used as a liturgy but right now I have no idea if it will ever be used as such. While I have been writing this, I got 3 texts asking people to come to the Ferguson Police Department and protest and while I am holding those sisters and brothers who are doing that right now in prayer, I have felt called to stay and do this instead. For me, writing it was an act of praying with the report and joining my lament to the cries of those who have been oppressed for so long. I hope it can be helpful in our corporate acts of confession, repentance and amendment of life.

Let us continue to pray on our knees, to pray with our feet, to lift up the cries of the oppressed and to work together for the Beloved Community of God.


Kurt Huber said...

Thank you for the hard work of putting this together. It is a powerful prayer.

I would love permission to share.

Mike said...

Absolutely. Use in any way that is helpful.

On Servant's Wings said...

This is beautiful. You've done an amazing job of blending the ancient prayers with the desperate cry for justice that is shaking this country.

I work in campus ministry with the 5 Colleges. With your permission I'd like to gather a group to use this service during the Wednesday of Holy Week at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to draw attention to the parallels between the petitions you so artfully transcribed and the journey we'll enter during the Triduum.

Mike said...

Please feel free to use this in any way you think will be helpful for the building up of the beloved community. Thank you for your kind words.

Gary said...

I read the entire report today, and it was depressing. The "banality of evil" is unfortunately alive and well. Your liturgy is helping ease some of the pain. Thanks!