Lord, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you. (Jeremiah 14:20)
Read: Jeremiah 14:11-16:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-3:13, Psalm 80:1-19, Proverbs 25:1-5
Relate: This Sunday, I will be gathering for worship with believers from all over the world. Many are local Turks and refugees from Syria and Iraq. Some others are internally displaced Kurds who have fled their homes and cities further east. In addition to this there will be university students studying here who have come from dozens of different nations in Africa.
Some of the countries and cultures that are represented in my believing community are sometimes doing OK and sometimes not. Other countries have been nothing short of chaos and strife all the way back to their founding. There are many reasons for the permanent or occasional strife these people groups experience and I do not want to oversimplify their social problems, but for at least two of the biggest factors, the blame can be laid directly at the Western World’s doorstep. We destroyed many of the early cultures and societies in our greed for slaves or exploitable resources and later on we created nations from our colonies when those colonies were no longer profitable. These nations we created were built off the borders of earlier colonies or spheres of influence and gave little to no thought to local cultures, languages, and geography. These are just two of the many sins of our ancestors for which we are still experiencing the effects today.
React: When the scroll of the Law was found in Josiah’s time, the people repented of their own sins and also the sins of their ancestors. In our reading today Jeremiah prophesies that a time will come when a righteous people repent of their own sins as well as the sins of their ancestors. When the seventy years of exile had come to an end, Daniel prayers a prayer of repentance for the sins of his ancestors. These three godly men recognized a truth that we would much rather ignore today: As long as the effects of a cultural sin are passed down from one generation to the next, the guilt for that sin also remains. I never owned slaves and I would like to believe I don’t have a racist bone in my body, but as long as the effects of slavery and Jim Crow racism continue to afflict us today, I am still responsible to be about making restitution. I must repent for the sins of my ancestors and that involves more than just prayer.
Make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console. To be understood as to understand. To be loved as to love others. For it is in giving that I receive. It is in pardoning that I am forgiven. It is in dying that I am born to eternal life.