Mar  2016 14
Lenten Prayer for a Day of Fasting

In my last entry, I referenced the history of national Thanksgiving Days and national Fast Days in the U.S. I’ve been thinking about why Christians (rather than Congress or the President) might unite in a national fast day, for Christians in the U.S. and for any other persons who might affirm the fast’s purposes. 

Would Christians be able to join together in a fast—in a day of self-examination and penance—during some Lent, for our national sins, for those ways in which through actions taken and actions neglected we, as a nation, have broken relationships and acted as if the U.S. is the standard of laws rather than one nation, among others, accountable to a higher law?  

The following is a prayer for a National Fast Day. I’ve attempted to stay with those matters on which I think there might be the broadest agreement. The title and refrain is from that hymn so beloved by many Christians, “America the Beautiful.” You’ll also recognize a couple of lines borrowed from President Lincoln and Dr. King. 

God, Mend Thine Ev’ry Flaw 

O God of All the Nations, 

in the vastness of time and space, with centuries and light years between worlds teeming with complex life, you formed Earth and animated an amazing variety of organisms, including human beings. You created wild diversity and gave humankind the awesome responsibility to keep, to sustain, to build, to repair, and to be helpers in your work of caring for the Earth, its life, and each other.  

In the course of human history,  

many centuries after peoples from other lands found their way to the Americas and rooted their lives here, there came explorers, conquerors, and missionaries who sought to subdue and cultivate the land and the peoples they found. There also came the poor, the formerly imprisoned, the landless, and the outcasts. Some persons enslaved Africans to work vast lands. Others enslaved Indigenous Peoples. Others eventually misused Chinese, German, Irish, Italian, and other laborers to do dangerous work for little pay, disrespecting their dignity. 

America, God mend thine ev’ry flaw. 

In the course of American history,  

values of liberty and justice for all were enshrined in magnificent documents and speeches that inspired and incited the advance of those values both here and around the world. You created human beings in your Image, and the better angels of our natures and our highest values recognize and require that human dignity is a right and a gift that governments cannot give or take but only recognize and protect. We confess that neither the persons we elect nor “we, the people” have yet fulfilled the promise of liberty and justice for all. 

America, God mend thine ev’ry flaw. 

As followers of the way of Jesus, reflecting on our national life, we acknowledge, confess, and are grieved by: 

  • Racism in all its evident and subtle manifestations, against Indigenous persons, descendants of slaves and interned Japanese-Americans, and all persons who are still judged by the color of their skin or national origin or religion rather than by the content of their character. 
  • Economic inequality that is not a result of laziness but of unjust social arrangements. 
  • Imprisoning and destroying the lives of so many persons who are not dangerous to themselves or society. 
  • A very thin sense of the public good, including as demonstrated by our elected leaders. 
  • Speaking of the immigrant and the stranger in thoroughly unbiblical ways. 
  • Overconsumption of the earth’s resources. 
  • The exploitation of children by adults, intentionally or unwittingly. 
  • Gun violence. 
  • How unevenly available, and dependent on income and zip code, are health care and good schools. 
  • Wars that have made the world more dangerous for us, more dangerous for our soldiers, and that have created new hellscapes in the countries where we’ve fought. 
  • The hijacking of Christianity by persons who seek to purify the nation of those they consider dangerous or impure, whether due to religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. 

America, God mend thine ev’ry flaw. 

Use this fast as a means of clearing our sight, opening our ears, and enlarging our hearts. God, mend my ev’ry flaw. 

In Jesus name.

Browse more posts by: Gary Peluso-Verdend, Phillips Faculty
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