Good Friday Prayer for our City

Gentle Jesus, be thine the wounds that heal our wounding.

-Frederick Buechner


Your Son taught to us to pray to you as our Father. Never do we feel more connected and indivisible as when we hurt each other, and the ripples tear at our insides, from one of us to the next and on and on and back again in a never-ending flow. We have one Father. We are family. And when one of us is hurting, all of us are.

And so we get angry when our brothers die, and we look for enemies. We weep for the fallen and point fingers in their name, call for blood to bring justice for bloodshed.

And all of us are right:

It is wrong for Allen to be killed while he’s guarding our families from harm. It is wrong that he died leaving a wife and two sons and an unborn daughter. It is wrong that he won’t go out with his buddies again or drink to the health of his newborn. It is wrong that his wife won’t see him come home, and that she had to hear the news. It is wrong that his brother was already dead and his parents are left without sons.And, yes, maybe if it’s a white kid in a rich neighborhood, he doesn’t get questioned at all. Maybe Deontea never had a chance to be anything other than 17, and running and shooting in fear. Maybe our city is broken enough that someone like him could get lost. And, yes, it is wrong that his family and friends have lost him before he ever had the chance to grow into a man. It is wrong that his mother should have to watch her son pass and never come home again.

It’s always right here, staring at us as we walk through our days: this brokenness is deep and it is present, and sometimes it explodes in front of us. And if all of us have one Father, and all of us are woven into the tapestry of this place, then maybe the finger should be pointed at me. Maybe we are so connected that all of our steps send ripples into lives we’ll never know or see. I am part of the recipe, an ingredient in the brokenness. Only this time my face wasn’t on the news, but I am an essential part of this history. No, I was not in Nicholtown on that Dark Friday, but I pulled the trigger, and felt the bullet. We are too much family for it not to be so.

And the Friday we call Good is here. And why was it good for Jesus to die, to walk his own cross to his death, to be nailed to it while angels watch and hold back, while his friends just leave him to the mob? Why was it good? Because there is a power at work in the world, its veins run deeper into the earth than any brokenness. It is more ancient and stronger than evil. It can even use wounds and nails and a whip to pour out the blood of our healing. It can take the brokenness and turn it on its head. The One who defeated death with death can make the fractured whole, and can heal the world in its breaking.

Our Father, we pray for our city. We are even so bold as to ask that the deaths of our brothers would not tear us apart, but somehow, inexplicably, would bring us together. May it be so.

Jonathan Allston

Jonathan is a technical writer by profession because it pays the bills better than writing poetry. A correlating truth is that he likes films with subtitles. He’s dang proud of being a husband to Lacey and a dad to Robert.