by Michelle Armster

The beginning of Lent is Ash Wednesday. A day that many Christians are invited to remember, repent and begin the Lenten journey of returning to God for forgiveness and restoration.

I need the journey.

Six months ago, I and the nation were confronted with the brutal, heinous and cruel murder of Michael Brown by a police officer named Darren Wilson. I weeped as the story unfolded of how his body stayed in the street for four-and-a-half hours while his family, friends and neighbors stood by watching and waiting. But soon, I also mourned for John Crawford, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Darrien Hunt, and the list continues.

History, however, reveals that this is not new to this country. This nation has always supported the state sanctioned torture and murder of African American and Indigenous people. From the genocide of and land grab from Indigenous people, to the people grab, enslavement and lynching of Africans.

Today’s lectionary text from Joel is part of a liturgical prayer that calls the people and the nations to repent because the day of Yahweh is coming. Not only coming — it is near. However, we can escape the judgement if we return to God by fasting, weeping, mourning and repenting.

What I know today, for me, is that I have no more tears. I have no more words.

I need this Lenten journey.

Holy One,
We have forgotten that you have called us to be people of grace, forgiveness and shalom.
We repent that we have relied on violence and greed to prove our worth.
Guide us on the Lenten journey.
Show us how to forgive.
Show us how to repent.
Show us how to weep.
Return us to you.

Michelle Armster is a Roots of Justice trainer and the executive director of Mennonite Central Committee Central States.