During the last two years of my seminary career, I had, to the best of my ability, been pulling myself out of bed for morning prayer with my housemates. As the sun rises, so we pray that our souls might rise to meet God as well.

The Book of Common Prayer is a fascinating and elegant work. The words contained within are the prayers which many others who have come alongside and before me have prayed. Sleep still heavy on my eyes, I stumble through the liturgy with the others, the form still unfamiliar to one unacquainted with it.

But this morning, as I reflected on the season of Lent, I paused. As Lent leads us into a time of wilderness wandering like that of Christ in the wilderness, I’ve noticed that if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t be able to say some of the phrases as wholeheartedly as I had in years prior.

Can God forgive us for what we’ve done to this world?

One Friday in seminary, I found myself in my systematic theology class. One of the assignments which my professor had given was to come in with a newspaper article as well as a verse or passage core to that person which might offer commentary and insight.

I watched as the whiteboard filled with words. As the empty space disappeared under black and blue ink, I could not but my heart grow heavier at each passing moment.

Most merciful God, 
we confess that we have sinned against you 
in thought, word, and deed, 

by what we have done, 
and by what we have left undone. 

When I was still attending Azusa Pacific University, I remember sitting in one of the classes within the Honors College. Upon discussing what would a virtuous life look like, the room was filled with chatter until a friend of mine, Nico, uttered, “Wouldn’t it be more useful to dig wells in Africa than to sit here and talk about the good life?”

The room fell silent. Dean Weeks shifted in his chair. And to be honest, I cannot remember what he said in response but I still remember that question Nico asked because it is the question I ask myself every day. I sit in a seminary learning all about divinity, all the while being confronted with whiteboards filled with indictments of my own situation. The world is out there, burning. And I’m in class, writing papers.

And yet, I also sense that in many ways, even if I choose to dig wells, nothing I will do, on its own, matter. The issues and problems and sins are too great. And I contribute to it all the more.

Can God forgive us for what we’ve done to this world?

We have not loved you with our whole heart; 
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. 

The whiteboard was filled with topics ranging in scope, from things happening on a global scale to others just up the road.

God, how it all must grieve you.

For the world’s relative apathy regarding the Amazon when compared to Notre Dame.

For the opioid crisis wracking American families.

For climate change running rampant because we fail (especially as Christians) to understand that we are tied to Creation and we are called to maintain and tend the world, not exploit it for a profit margin.

For times like these when we are tempted to conflate legal with moral, especially with situations surrounding refugees and immigrants at the border and in detention facilities and other situations further oppressing those who are on the margins.

For pollution destroying the health of those who cannot afford to get sick.

For the stigmatization of those experiencing mental illness.

For the continuation of gun violence and mass shootings.

God for these things and many more, I ask, how long will you allow this all to continue?

We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. 
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, 
have mercy on us and forgive us; 
that we may delight in your will, 
and walk in your ways, 
to the glory of your Name.

Not because of us, but in spite of us, Lord. For the sake of your Son.

Lord, have mercy.

Have mercy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s