This is a prayer from Walter Brueggemann’s book Prayers for a Privileged People. He is addressing an American context in which he perceives God’s people have forgotten the radical nature of the grace they have been given and begun to collude with the society around them, becoming violent and militaristic to protect its power and entitlement. It’s hard stuff to hear but it offers a perspective on the UK in the aftermath of the election:
We are mostly the kind of people who do well and who mean well.
We know how to do what must be done and we get up and do it.
We have a sense of our worth and our capacity to perform. We care for our children and our futures and our good schools…
We sit and enjoy our responsible entitlement that we have surely earned.
Along with our success and well-being, we wish our children happy, so we protect and extend adolescence; build barriers against ugliness and failure and struggle with too much work and stress.
We have and treasure all the signs of entitlement, all the props of affluence, all the symbols of well-being.
How peculiar that we have it all and yet we worry about the immigrants who might acquire some small part of our legacy.
In this moment of candor before you, we step into the gap in our life between assured entitlement and the threat of immigrants, between our indulgence of our children and the violence that mostly lacks shame.
Move us by your hovering that we may come to ourselves, that we may notice the ways in which we are far from home, that we might reckon how we have betrayed ourselves for quick fixes.
Give us the capacity to return to you, to be welcomed home, to be forgiven, to be invited to dance and to a fatted calf, and to receive it all as a gift from you.
As a people of entitlement and violence, we converge with immigrants, we learn together how deeply in need we are; receive us and move us that we may accept your welcome in newness.
Return us to innocence, even as we are frightened.
Exhibit to us your great simplicity among our complex habits.
Call us at last by our right names, because we are yours.