Building the Beloved Community: A Prayer

July 1, 2020

Holy One, we quiver when we consider how long you’ve taught us to love one another,
to have one law that governs us all, one standard of right and wrong by which we are each measured.

How long you have taught us that we are to be brothers and sisters to one another,
to nurture one another, to defend one another,
to protect one another. 

And how long we have, whenever we attain any degree of authority, used our fragile hold on power to try to make ourselves great by keeping others down. 

And we grieve at how much sorrow we have brought to You.

We can imagine the pain of a parent who sees children quarreling, bullying, abusing.

We know what that must do to Your heart. 

So we pray that You give us those promised new hearts, quickly and in our time. For Your sake and for ours.

We pray that You remind us, as it says in Your Torah, “lo Tukhal Lehitalem  You shall not be indifferent.”

We shall not be indifferent when we hear the cries of our brothers and sisters, whether they look like us or not. 

We shall not be indifferent when we cling to the privilege of our own lives yet passively watch others having their comfort stripped from them, and we do nothing. 

We shall not be indifferent when suffering people say, “Hear our cry!” Help us to unstop our ears and to allow our hearts to break wide open and, finally, to listen. 

The prophet Isaiah speaks about those people who “have ears but do not hear, eyes but do not see.” Don’t let us be those people. 

Open our eyes so that we truly see, open our ears so that we can truly hear. 

And let us rest in Your love so that we are able to stand, rooted and tall, and do what battered humanity, your children, require. 

God bless the hands of all who are giving their strength to the work of justice, whether new to the effort or long-practiced.

Let us resolve to birth a new America, one that retains the very best of its aspiration of equal justice for all, but one that now extends that vision to all of its children equally and without discrimination, so all of us can sit at Your table and shape redemption together. 

And let us all say, Amen.

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson is the Abner & Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair and professor of philosophy at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.

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