Tales of a Midwest Lutheran on the East Coast

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Confessing the Sin of Racism

This came out of a desire to take a hard look within myself to where I have let myself be blind to the sin of racism. The impulse arose from a conversation the NJ Synod had at our synod assembly on racism. In our randomized small group conversations, it became pretty obvious that a few of us were pretty clueless as to what white privilege really is. I found myself in deep need of forgiveness on the day after the shooting at Emanuel in Charleston. For me, white privilege means that I will never have to be afraid of being killed while leading a Bible study because of who I am or the color of my skin. 

Much of the following litany comes from confession portion of night prayer/compline, individual confession and forgiveness, and our baptismal liturgy, all from the Evangelical Lutheran Worship book. The first part is the closest thing I could find to what I was looking for, which is why I put this together.  I also included the "exorcism" and profession of faith portion of the baptismal liturgy, because it felt natural to both confess our sins and reject the demon of racism. Please borrow, steal, change, and use this as you see fit. Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has invited us to participate in an ELCA-wide day of remembrance and mourning, and this could act as a supplement. 

Prayer of Confession

For the racism which denies dignity to those who are different, Lord, forgive us:
Lord, have mercy.

For the racism which recognizes prejudice in others and never in ourselves, Christ, forgive us:
Christ, have mercy.

For the racism which will not recognize the work of your Spirit in other cultures, Lord, forgive us:
Lord, have mercy.

(from the United Church of Canada, www.united-church.ca/bfw/resources.shtm)


Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Holy and Gracious God –

I confess that I have sinned against you, this day and every day. Some of my sin I know, but some is known only to you.

I confess the conscious and unconscious ways I participate in evils of racism.

I confess that I am a complicit participant in the structures and institutions that grow oppression, injustice, and prejudice against some of your children in this country and around the world who have darker skin than I do.  Instead of searching for a new future, I choose the status quo.

I confess that I willingly have listened to and believed the media which paints our brothers and sisters in broad strokes, saying that people who seem different are “crazy” or “dangerous.”  Instead of seeking openness and understanding, I give in to my fear.

I confess that I do not take responsibility for the fact that at one time in this country it was legal for one human being to own, rape, and use another human being. I confess I forget to see the generational damage and repeating repercussions of this truth.  Instead of remembering, I choose blame.

I confess that talking about white privilege makes me feel uncomfortable, and so I allow myself to forget that it exists, even though my ability to do so proves its existence.  Instead of seeking the bright day of truth, I choose blindness.

I have been silent when I have been called to speak.  
I have stayed my hand when I have been called to act and reach out.
I have been afraid when I have been called to love.

In the name of Jesus Christ, who heals, loves, and gathers all people, I ask for forgiveness. Deliver and restore me, and bring to me your peace.


Cling to this promise: the word of forgiveness I speak to you comes from God. By water and the Holy Spirit, God gives you a new birth. Neither death nor life nor angels or demons nor painful past or uncertain future can rip us from this promise. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God forgives you all your sins. Through his violent death at the hand of hate and sin, Jesus defeated the powers of evil in order to bring us together as one people. Now, as the beloved people of God, may Almighty God strengthen you in all goodness and truth and keep you forever in eternal life. Amen.

 Profession of Faith

 I ask you to profess your faith in Christ Jesus, reject sin, and confess the faith of the church. Do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God?

 I renounce them.

Do you renounce the powers of this world that rebel against God?

I renounce them.

Do you renounce the ways of sin that draw you from God?

I renounce them.

Do you believe in God the Father?

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

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