The Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard, program manager for the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, was part of a prayer service for hope and unity at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles in Los Angeles, along with Mayor Eric Garcetti and other interfaith leaders. Her remarks and prayers are at the 47 minute mark and below.
Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard:
I thought about leaving my children with a babysitter, then I thought, “Well, they are the reason I am here tonight to pray, not just for my children but the children of this nation, who find themselves in a time where they are struggling and trying to figure out what will the next few days, months, and even years feel and be like for them.”
So I brought my children, because my children are the reason I cry out to God, as I’m sure all of you here do. And if it’s not for your biological children, it’s for the children in your neighborhoods, the children in your congregation, the children where you worship, work and live. So tonight I stand with you for prayers for our children of every race, color, creed, ethnicity, for children young and old. Our children, and I mean all of our children, are the reason we stand for justice and we decide to speak up, stand up and continue to pray.
In one of our Negro songs, the Negro anthem, there are lyrics that say, “God of our weary years, God of our silent tears.” And so I cry out tonight to the God of our weary years and the God of our silent tears, that that God will continue to lead, guide and direct us in this season of trouble and turmoil—this season we’re not really sure what it’s going look like. That that God would give us wisdom, give us compassion, give us understanding. I pray that that God open up the hearts of those whose hearts seem to be closed right now, who hearts are hardened.
I pray to that God right now for all of our families, our children and our communities. That that God—the God of our weary years, the God of our silent tears—would hold back the hand of the enemy that attempt to crush families, to destroy families, to destroy lives. That that God would raise up a standard against anyone, against any system that’s unjust and that treats the other unjustly. I pray to that God tonight for all our children, all of our families. That that God would raise up a standard against anyone, against any system, against any enemy that would attempt to override, overlook that we are real people; and that we are human beings; and that we’re not to be dismissed; we’re not to be disenfranchised; we are not to be disregarded; we are not to be put out or put away. That we are people, human beings, and we deserve the respect and love that God has poured out on all humanity.
The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sin, so I pray to that God—God of our weary years and God of our silent tears—that the love of God would rest, would rule, and would abide. That the love of God would arrest the hearts of those who would try to be unjust. I pray to that God, that God would cause love to rise out up of places we’ve never seen before—love that would cause us to stand for each other, love that would cause us to fight for each other, love that would cause us to continue to pray for and with each other. Because love conquers a multitude of sin, and it’s only by love we can conquer hate. So to the God of our weary years, the God of our silent tears, we cry out tonight, here our prayers, oh Lord, hear our prayers.
Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard is Assistant Director of Community and Public Engagement with the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.