Friday, August 14, 2015

A Prayer on the Feast of Jonathan Myrick Daniels

50 years ago, Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Myrick Daniels was shot in killed was shot and killed in Hayneville, Alabama, while saving the life of another civil rights worker. The Episcopal Church commemorates him on this day. Here is a prayer I wrote over ten years that appeared in the anthology, Race and Prayer: Collected Voices, Many Dreams.
 
 
A Prayer on the Feast of Jonathan Myrick Daniels

 

Holy and loving God,

help us to see ourselves

            as You see us—

these people we are

            beneath our colored flesh.

Burn away

with a purifying fire

the cataracts of ignorance

            and prejudice

Take from us

our small-mindedness,

our sometimes inbred need 

            to see with human eyes

            and not with our true sight—

that vision you have set within us.

 

Replace the violence that grows within us

when we are frightened

and challenged

with the peacefulness

            and the love you have shown to us

in Jesus, our brother and our friend.

 

Help us to embrace color—

to see, in our various tints,

the holiness of our flesh.

 

Love us in all the colors of our skin—

in our reds,

in our blackness,

in our yellows

in our browns

and in our whiteness.

 

Love us for the fire

of compassion and truth

that burns within us—

stronger than all flesh.

 

Love us for the life within us—

            for the frail breath that is with us today

            and gone, in an instant, tomorrow.

Love us for the blood that courses

through all our veins—

the same-colored blood

that was drained from Jesus’ veins.

 

We ask this of You—

most holy

and loving God—

whose very presence in our lives

is one of light

and life

and, yes, of color—

who, in Jesus, was one of us.

 

In the Spirit

You have given us,

make us, truly,

One.

 

 

 

“A Prayer on the Feast of Jonathan Myrick Daniels” originally appeared in the anthology, Race and Prayer: Collected Voices, Many Dreams, edited by Malcolm Boyd and Bishop Chester L. Talton. Published in March 2003 by Morehouse Publishing.

 

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