taking the words of Jesus seriously

“He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.'” (Ezek. 37:3)

As the Red Letter community prepares for its upcoming revival taking place this weekend, I have been thinking about those old tent meetings and three-evening, come-to-Jesus events of my evangelical upbringing. I’ve been reflecting on the invitations, the decisions, the aisle-walking, and the eternity-reminders. I can remember well how the whole spirit of those altar calls (set to a looping “I Surrender All” played on a small keyboard) seemed to suggest that dry bones could indeed move again. At least, they could theoretically. At least, they could in the life to come.

But this is what the lovers of Jesus and justice know and why they’ll soon gather: in these days, we pace a valley whose floors are covered in the dust of scorched bones, where our “hope is gone; and we are cut off” (Ezek. 37:11). And we need them to begin moving now for the sake of a better world.

We need the prophets to call forth their rattling, to beckon breath into the slain, to re-humanize us ligament by ligament. We need a Spirit to awaken us to our calling as image-bearers who look after all different types of image-bearers in this life. We need an altar call that invites us into a third way and an aisle that leads us to the love of neighbor. We need a raised hand declaring the decision to live for good news that is good for all people. We need a prayer of repentance that turns us from our abstract faith toward a practical embodiment of what Jesus said about the poor, the oppressed, the peacemaker, and the merciful.

We need revival. And so we pray . . .

Leader: For how we have sold our souls,
Community: We repent.

For how we have allowed fear into our homes, our media, our minds, our hearts, and our bodies,
We repent.

For how we have allowed that fear to turn us into people who would rather kill by the sword than die for a friend,
We repent.

For all of the daughters whom we have chosen not to believe and their abusers for whom we’ve made excuses,
We repent.

For all the bodies that are riddled with toxins and carcinogens because of how we exploited the soil or how our votes supported those who do,
We repent.

For our allegiance to weapons above lives and power above equity,
We repent.

For those who have been made to feel as if God loves them less and as if the church is not theirs because of their sexuality,
We repent.

For how our landfills, costs of medicine, and willingness to digitally dehumanize each other have grown out of control,
We repent.

For our country’s history of faith that is so founded on and intertwined with the abuse and rejection of black and brown people,
We repent.

For the years that Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, and so many other children of God will never have,
We repent.

For the students who go to school anxious today while adults pledge their love to guns; for all the students who no longer can,
We repent.

For when we were too scared to march and too angry to be merciful,
We repent.

For our misconceptions about those who are different and our words that cause more death than life,
We repent.

For how we have benefited from land that was not ours and work that we did not do while the oppressed die of hunger, disease, and war long before reparations are made,
We repent.

For the dreamers, migrants, and refugees living as strangers in an inhospitable environment; for how we did not open our door when You knocked,
We repent.

For our isolated existences, our self-preserving greed, our love of money and of being right,
We repent.

For how we have not, in times of tragedy, drawn close with ears that listen or prayers that center,
We repent.

For how we have been so focused on the next life that we have missed bringing heaven into this one,
We repent.

For all the ways that we have forgotten that we need each other, even our enemy,
We repent.

For our disbelief that another world is possible;
For the rules that we assigned to God’s name;
For the hope that we didn’t,
We repent.

Now with every head held high and every eye wide,
We answer the invitation to take Jesus at his word
Saying: We surrender all, We surrender all
All to Thee, our blessed Savior, We surrender all

About The Author

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Britney Winn Lee is a writer, mama, wife, and neighbor living in Shreveport, LA, where she works as the director of a community arts program. She is currently signed with Wipf and Stock Publishers for a ministry memoir whose working title is "The Way is Where: A Complicated Search for Radical Faithfulness" (due in 2018). Her public writings can be found on Red Letter Christians blog, Art House America blog, and her personal site www.britneywinnlee.com.

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