Today, Lord, we repent. Today, we mark our faces with ashes and we beat our hearts in mourning for what we have done.
As we look forward to the celebration of the sacrifice and the resurrection of your Son, we prepare our hearts by realizing the gravity of what we have done with our choices and with our world.
We take up the refrain of our brothers and sisters of old to dress ourselves “in sackcloth, and sit among the ashes” of our sins. (Jer. 6: 26, NLT).
Because this is the plain truth, Lord. We, who call ourselves Christians, often act as if you do not exist. We honour you with our lips, but our hearts are far from you.
We proclaim faith, but we walk in atheism.
We say God is alive, but if you look at our actions, God is dead. For if we really believed God were alive and present, would we really act as we do?
Today, Father, we repent of the many ways we have conducted ourselves in the absence of our belief.
You call for peace, but we have chosen war with the bombs and the bullets that have claimed sons and daughters, and mothers and fathers in the Middle East. We use ethnic and religious lines to proclaim our brothers and sisters as enemies, less than human, and worthy of being killed.
You call for the poor to be fed, but we have chosen to feed ourselves. We hoard our riches, and leave our brother and sister on the street to starve and shiver in the cold.
You call for people of all races and ethnicities to be your children, but we, the church, have allowed powerful systems of racism to take root in our hearts.
You call for restoration, reconciliation, and justice for all of your children, but we continue to exclude, judge, and oppress our First Nations brothers and sisters. We even turn a blind eye as they are horribly killed.
You call for the dignity of women, but we, the men of the church, continue to degrade and devalue your image in women through our jokes, through our misogyny, and through our ignorance.
These are but a few of the ways that we mourn today, Lord.
Because although, as Christians, we tell the world that you exist, you do not exist in our actions.
And we pray, “break through our unbelief, Lord!” We yearn for the light of your resurrection to break through death and raise our belief back to life.