Worship resources: Christ has set us free

Hundreds of years ago, our nation put those considered less than human in shackles; less than one hundred years ago, we relegated them to the other side of town; today we put them in cages. –Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow (The New Press, 2012)

The U.S. criminal justice system is badly broken and has become a system of racial control, as described powerfully by Michelle Alexander in “The New Jim Crow.” These worship resources provide tools for prayer, reflection and confession, as well as the bold proclamation that God’s power sets us free from spiritual and physical bondage.

Gathering song

As you gather, reflect on the richness of God’s grace to all of us by singing or listening to “Amazing grace” (Hymnal: A Worship Book 143).

 Prayers

Take time to pray as a congregation for those who are in prison, their families, those who have experienced crime and those who work for a more restorative and just criminal justice system.

 Litany

Leader: The United States locks up more people than any other country.

Congregation: Oh Lord, have mercy.

Leader: The Lord looks down from the holy height, to hear the groans of the prisoners.

Congregation: Break these chains of oppression, O Lord.

Leader: African-Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of white Americans.

Congregation: Oh Lord, have mercy.

 Leader: African-Americans are shot and killed by police at 2.5 times the rate of white people.

Congregation: Oh Lord, have mercy.

 Leader: The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

Congregation: Break these chains of oppression, O Lord.

Leader: There are more African-American men in prison right now than there were in slavery before the Civil War.

Congregation: Oh Lord, have mercy.

Leader: The Lord has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners.

Congregation: Break these chains of oppression, O Lord.

All: For freedom Christ has set us free.

–Texts: Psalm 102:19-20, Isaiah 61:1, Psalm 146:7-8, Galatians 5:1

 Confession

In silence, spend time confessing the ways in which we in the United States, including we as Christians, have created a system of mass incarceration out of fear, ignorance and indifference. Ask for courage to confront these injustices and our own complicity in them.

 Reflection

End the time of silent confession by listening to “Break every chain,” sung by Tasha Cobbs (available on YouTube).