On this the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, in the spirit of Lent I write this prayer of confession. It is a lament written on behalf of my people the church.
Merciful yet holy and just God,
We confess as your followers who reside in the United States that we are deeply affected by our upbringing and culture in what things we think are “normal” and “good” and “healthy.” We confess we are limited in our understanding and our cultural surroundings can lead us down both wise and sinful pathways.
God, in the patriotic fervor in the wake of September 11th, we confess we often lacked the courage to stand up and confront that patriotism when it transitioned to dehumanizing others. We often justified or stood idly by as the American president embarked on a twisted crusade of propaganda that led to eventual military conquest.
We didn’t want to seem strange to others. We didn’t want to seem different. We didn’t want to lose friendships. We didn’t want to risk our reputations, our jobs, our comfort, and the stability of the life we have come to desire above many other things.
We come to you, the God who is eager to forgive and set our feet on a righteous path, with heavy hearts.
When we refused to speak up, to confess, and to lead, your hand was heavy on us.
We were defacing the truth of Christ and the call to righteousness by either joining the chorus of hatred or standing idly by. We forsook our role in the world as a “kingdom of priests” to lead our world back to our created purpose.
God, we come before you with deep contrition and brokenness today.
God, may you inspire tears of the pain experienced by those who suffered violence following 2003 at American hands to well up within us; to overflow in our hearts and our eyes as we share in their pain and intercede on their behalf. God, may you inspire tears of the pain experienced by families and servicemembers of the United States to well up within us; to overflow in our hearts and eyes as we share in their pain and intercede on their behalf.
God, cleanse us and transform our vision of who we are intended to be as your disciples. Renew our vision to be courageous people of hope and unconditional, sacrificial love for all of your people.
May every other priority in our life fall far short of seeking your kingdom and your righteousness, Lord. Jesus, you are our King. Remind us of the power of the resurrection that sets us free from fear and the ultimate power of death. Remind us that our reputation and our very lives are worth far less than the command of obedience to you alone.
Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, Lord of all your creation.