Resurrection requires death. As we prepare for Easter by remembering Jesus' suffering and death, I’m preparing for new life by confessing a few of the sins that Pastors Brenda Bos, James Phillips and Scott Peterson identified in their blogs entries for our “Repentance in an Age of Christian Nationalism” series. I invite you to join me.
My first confession is that I have sometimes I treated Confession and Forgiveness as if it was a “forgive and forget” kind of a deal. I confess, God forgives, and my life goes on – same old same old. Pastor James Phillips in his blog for this series, challenged us to see it differently. He argues that Confession and Forgiveness should inspire us to take the “actions necessary to eradicate sin.” That makes sense to me because God’s mission is a participatory process. God saves, but we are God’s voice, hands, and feet in the world. Of course God’s work can happen without you, but is that really what you want?
My prayer of confession.
God of Grace and Mercy:
I confess that when I hear “We are number 1!” I am secretly proud to be part of such a great nation, as if the greatness is real, and I contribute to it in some substantial way.
Help me to recognize that American Exceptionalism is a lie:
A lie that holds one country above all other nations, tribes, and peoples that you have created,
A lie that encourages me to tie my identity to something as fragile as a country, instead of to you.
Because of your love I recognize and confess that America is not the winner of some global contest, and neither am I. You have shown me that there is no competition between nations or between individuals for we are all equal at the foot of the cross.
I confess that when I hear a call to protect the traditions of my past, I join in because I find comfort in old habits.
Help me to recognize that my comfort is rooted in the lie of white supremacy.
A lie that centers white experience and marginalizes everyone else.
A lie that leads to the enslavement of some, the genocide of others, and an ongoing
need to hold back and push down anyone created in the image of God whose culture, skin-tone, language, gender identity, socio-economic status or any other variation is deemed to be of less value than those who look like me.
Because of Your love, I recognize and confess that others will continue to suffer if I insist on my own comfort instead of accepting my rightful place alongside all humanity at the foot of the cross.
I confess that when I hear words that defend or minimize the actions of Derek Chauvin, or Robert Aaron Long, I listen to their argument because I don’t want to believe that racism and misogyny are powerful enough to motivate such evil deeds.
Help me to recognize that this lie seduces me into thinking that things aren’t that bad.
This lie blinds me to the scale and prevalence of the suffering caused by Christian Nationalism.
It discounts the impact of the myths of patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, nativism and authoritarianism that support Christian Nationalism.
Because of Your love I recognize and confess that as long as I do not love my neighbors as personally as You have commanded, I will continue to minimize their pain to maintain my own comfort.
God’s Offer of Forgiveness:
Enduring the pain of the nails that pierced his hands and feet, Jesus looked at those who had screamed for his execution and said: “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
When the resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples, who had denied and abandoned him when he needed them most, he said: “Peace be with you.”
God is judge of all and God’s verdict is mercy.
Because of God’s mercy I can accept God’s forgiveness for all my sins in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
My Active Response:
Without your forgiveness God, I could never hope to change my ways so that I could play a part in your mission to heal the world. I ask for your help, and I know you will hold me accountable for this work.
Help me to risk discomfort and vulnerability so that I can speak and behave in ways that honor the truth that we are all equal at the foot of the cross. Teach me to question the assumptions that support Christian Nationalism, to recognize my privilege and share power with those whose own power is so often unacknowledged or silenced. Shut my mouth when others need to speak. Help me to hear their cries and support the change they seek. When others correct me, help me to receive it with humility. Help me to do my own work, to read books by people of color and those who identify as LGBTQIA so that I can understand a bit of how they experience the world. Strengthen me to support your healing work in the world.
All this I ask in the name of your Son, through whom you continue to save and heal the world.