April 2- Day 33 of Lent

OPENING PRAYER: Loss is Indeed our Gain (Walter Brueggemann)

The Pushing and Shoving in the world is endless.
We are pushed and shoved.
And we do our share of pushing and shoving
in our great anxiety.
And in the middle of that
you have set down your beloved suffering son
who was like a sheep led to slaughter
who opened not his mouth.

We seem not able,
so we ask you to create space in our life
where we may ponder his suffering
and your summons for us to suffer with him,
suspecting that suffering is the only way to newness.

So we pray for your church in these Lenten days,
when we are driven to denial —
not to notice the suffering,
not to engage it,
not to acknowledge it.
So be that way of truth among us
that we should not deceive ourselves
That we shall see that loss is indeed our gain.
We give you thanks for that mystery from which we live.

Amen.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: APRIL 2, 1934

Reuben Micou Case

*Trigger warning: This post details an act of lynching and contains descriptions of violence.

On April 2nd 1934, the men who murdered Ruben Micou were acquitted of all charges. Reben Micou’s story was not a well known one before it was featured in an article in the Choctaw Plaindealer. Micou–who was born a slave, and eventually freed as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation–was kidnapped from a jail in Winston County MIssissippi, by a group of 17 white males on July 27th 1933. Micou, who was 73 years old at the time, was abducted by the lynch mob at gunpoint, and savagely killed afterwards.

Micou was arrested following an intense altercation with a neighbor, who was a prominent white businessman. Micou’s neighbor owned the adjacent property, and their argument stemmed over which one of them was the rightful owner of a group of pigs that were freely roaming between the two men’s properties (Micou was an older, independent, farmer). After the altercation, the police were called, and Micou was arrested and taken to jail.

The next day, while Micou was still behind bars, a lynch mob (17 white men), seeking vigilante justice, broke into the jail and kidnapped Micou. The mob dragged him out of the jail at gunpoint, and then tortured, shot, and lynched him. Micou’s body was ultimately found seven miles away from the jail in a churchyard. When Micou’s body was found, it was riddled with bullets and disfigured. While 5 of the members of the lynch mob initially confessed to their role in the murder, in the end, none were convicted. This account of his brutal death, and the lack of justice that followed, reflected the state of race relations in Mississippi, and the nation as a whole in the post-slavery era.

SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: ISAIAH 1:13-17

“Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
    Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
    I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
    I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
    I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
    I am not listening.

Your hands are full of blood!

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.

    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

RESPONSE OF LAMENT AND CONFESSION: Please spend some time in personal response, crying out to God with prayers, poems, songs, or art that expresses your lament and confession. If you feel led, please share these responses with others, using #lentenlament #day33

You may close with the following:

Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

CLOSING PRAYER: Prayer for Freedom from Race Prejudice (Robert C. Lawson, 1925)

“O God, who has made man in thine own likeness, and who doth love all whom Thou has made, suffer us not because of difference of race, color, or condition to separate ourselves from others and thereby from Thee; but teach us the unity of Thy family and universality of Thy Love.

As Thou Saviour, as a Son, was born of an Hebrew mother, who had the blood of many nations in her veins; and ministered first to Thy brethren of the Israelites, but rejoiced in the faith of a Syro-Phoenician woman and of a Roman soldier, and suffered your cross to be carried by an Ehtiopian; teach us, also, while loving and serving our own, to enter into the communion of the whole family; and forbid that from pride of birth, color, achievement, and hardness of heart, we should despise any for whom Christ died, or injure or grieve any in whom He lives. We pray in Jesus precious name.”

Amen.

-From Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans

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