Sunday, February 14
Ezekiel 36:26 – And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Who hasn’t wept singing these words from Dan Schutte’s Here I Am Lord “I will break their hearts of stone give them hearts for love alone…”? Can we truly claim to have receipt of a “heart of flesh” if we have merely traded one heart of stone for a newer version? We must, with vigilant hearts, examine whether we are deceiving ourselves about race as pointed out in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age Colorblindness.
“The rules and reasons the political system employs to enforce status relations of any kind, including racial hierarchy, evolve and change as they are challenged. The valiant efforts to abolish slavery and Jim Crow and to achieve greater racial equality have brought about significant changes in the legal framework of American society—new “rules of the game,” so to speak. These new rules have been justified by new rhetoric, new language, and a new social consensus, while producing many of the same results. This dynamic, which legal scholar Reva Siegel has dubbed “preservation through transformation,” is the process through which white privilege is maintained, though the rules and rhetoric change.”
Action step: today, with brutal honesty examine your understanding of Methodism, have we as a denomination changed our hearts of stone or have we replaced them utilizing “preservation through transformation” into new, shiny forms of white, and frankly primarily male, privilege? What can you do about this? How can you address this within your church? How will you address this within the Conference?
Prayer: A Prayer of Lament
O God, our Divine Parent,
the truth is often uncomfortable,
but no less the truth.
The strife of racial tension claims another life;
someone pays the price for years of suspicion,
mistrust, separation, and hatred.
The bleak wilderness is once again our address,
where we cry with hunger and thirst
for what seems to be a false dream.
Is “liberty and justice” really for all?
You, O God, who know us so well,
we seem incapable of being comforted,
saturated with the aches and pains of
bitter language, scornful treatment, spiteful violence.
What do we do with our unresolved, unfinished, unending grief?
Where can we turn with unpalatable hurt
that pollutes our thoughts and soils our shoes?
“Anger and alleluias careen around
within us, sometimes colliding.”
O God of tender compassion,
known for your steadfast love and faithfulness,
will our discomfort ever find resolution;
can’t you fix this – or inspire us to?
When we accept the phony gods of
persistent attitudes, arrogance and superiority
step up, step on, step in to quell our self-made idols.
Show us how wrong we are, how much we have lost,
how significantly more we have to learn,
how our hearts are frozen,
the kind of courage it takes to unclench our fist
and open our hand.
Confident that you hear our lament,
teach us the ways of peace, patience, hope and love
so that we may again praise you,
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
George R. Crisp, OSL, September 17, 2020 ~ this prayer was shared on September 20, 2020 by UMC Discipleship’s Praying for Change: Daily Prayers for Anti-Racism E-mail
 Borrowed from Ann Weems, Psalms of Lament.