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Where Does Reconciliation Begin?

There’s a scene in the movie “The Color Purple” when the character Celie curses her abuser Albert, Mister, from the back seat of a convertible car as she is leaving him, declaring her liberation.  Chanequa Walker-Barnes in her book “I Bring the Voice of My People:  A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation,” shares her interpretation of the scene as it is described in Alice Walker’s  book “The Color Purple”.  

According to Walker-Barnes “The novel ‘The Color Purple’ is a narrative about women and men finding liberation and becoming their authentic selves in the midst of an oppressive culture.”  Characters in the novel are people whose self-images and relationships are broken by the deeply racist and patriarchal context in which they live.  There are images in the story that have become apparent in our modern day society.  In recent years our political arena has taken on a form of oppression.  Oftentimes an oppressed person doesn’t really recognize their oppression until they experience even the slightest form of liberation.

Chanequa Walker-Barnes, describes a womanist vision of reconciliation that is a developmental process. This journey requires “confrontational truth-telling, liberation and healing, repentance and conversion for the oppressor; and building beloved communities”.  

As a nation divided along lines of race, class and economics; as a “United States” we  live under a curse when we fail to live in peace with our neighbor, when the wealthiest 1% own more than 40% of this country’s wealth. We live under a curse when greater than 550 children are separated from their parents and housed in cages at the border of Mexico. We live under a curse when Mammon/money is worshipped. Where does Reconciliation begin? Within.

A prayer for Reconciliation

Let there be peace and equity on earth for all, and Lord, let it begin with me.

Loving Mothering God, Father of us all, we pray for hearts to listen to you in silence and from within. We pray for the Spirit of truth to be released to confront those who would withhold justice and equity, for the good of all.  We pray for the wisdom and courage to speak truth to power in love. That you give us voice to speak for the voiceless. That the work of reconciliation would be with us, now.

Jesus said that we would know the truth and the truth would set us free. We pray for liberation and healing. We pray for strong compassionate leaders who are agents of healing this nation.

We pray that the hardened hearts would be softened to release the children in detainment camps. We pray that the heart of our elected officials will be in your hands, and that your  power, oh God, will be revealed.

We pray, oh God, that you would create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us as a people and nation. We ask for a spirit of repentance and conversion of the oppressors for seeds of greed, bigotry, hate and discourse and abuse of power. Lord, a broken and contrite heart you will move us as your people to do what is right in the eyes of others. And help us to not be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good. Give us a desire to  build a beloved community in the spirit of love that is a reflection of your kin-dom come here on earth. 

In your name we pray.  Amen

The Rev. Babette Chatman, University Pastor