What in the World is Going On?

This sermon was given on Sunday, May 31, 2020 by Frank Lanier as part of the sermon series .

Pastors Frank Lanier and Todd Olson
First Evangelical Free Church, Maplewood, MN

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If you're interested in hearing another message related to race and favoritism, take a listen to this message from Dorkham See from January, 2019.


A prayer of lament

The following prayer of lament is from “The Christian's Call to Lament" by Greg Strand.

Our Father and our God, we are grieved beyond words as we ponder the events of this past week. With the mark of 100,000 deaths due to COVID-19 and the grievous death of George Floyd, we are shocked, angry and deeply sorrowful. And our anguish is multiplied as we see the devastating response—the rioting, burning, the looting and shooting—in the cities of Minneapolis, Saint Paul and elsewhere around the country.

We must speak because it is right to respond. This is not about politics. This is about human life, human beings created in the image of God who are fellow image bearers. We want and need to respond, but we often do not know how or in what way. Lord, we are confused and conflicted.

Our initial tendency, Lord, is often activism: to speak, to do, to engage before we prepare our hearts. There is a time and place for responding. But before we move to the response, with the deep grief and heavy sorrow we feel, we must first pause to lament, to weep and cry as we see the devastating and deadly results of sin. As we utter these prayers of lament in the midst of the suffering and pain, we do so with faith and trust in you and your promises. We seek to lament as our Lord Jesus did.

We lament that so often in our lives your justifying grace is separated from your sanctifying power and purpose, that the confession of our lips is inconsistent with our character and the manner in which we conduct our lives. Lord, hear our prayer, forgive and renew.

We lament we have not loved you supremely with our whole hearts, that we have made good gifts from you ultimate and thus engaged in idolatry. We have not loved others sacrificially, we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. To the contrary, we have despised the other. Lord, hear our prayer, forgive and renew.

We lament that our faith has been without works, it has not been lived out in care for others in the body of Christ. We have considered others an intrusion into our lives. We also lament that we have lacked compassion toward the poor, blaming them for their state, foregoing a life marked by the compassion we have experienced through Jesus Christ. We also care for justice for ourselves, but we care very little for justice for the oppressed, believing they get what they deserve. We have failed to reflect the gospel in word and deed, by overlooking that the God of justice cares about justice, especially for those in need. Lord, hear our prayer, forgive and renew.

We lament we have engaged in the world according to the flesh, using the world’s means and in a worldly manner. We have considered people the enemy, not the spiritual forces of evil, concluding our enemy is one who has different color skin, or one who disagrees with us, or one who has a different view on a subject, or one who is of the other political party. Lord, hear our prayer, forgive and renew.

We lament that we have been more committed to making ourselves happy and content than dying to self, and that we have desired more to retain the status quo in our churches than to obey the Lord Jesus’ command to make disciples. We also lament we have been more committed to people who look like us than we have been to a ministry among all people, which means we often reflect more of the world’s ways than we bear witness to the gospel, as God’s new community, being a reflection of the kingdom. Lord, hear our prayer, forgive and renew.

“O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name” (Dan 9:19).

In Jesus’ name and for his sake, amen.