Mardi Gras has concluded in New Orleans. Carnival celebrations across the globe have wound down. The party’s over. Lent begins with an international hangover. Maybe that’s appropriate.
It’s a time to look in the mirror, a time for confession. The sign of the cross, imposed on one’s forehead with ashes, is an ancient sign of repentance.
There’s a Litany of Penitence in the Book of Common Prayer. I’ve done a rewrite - my own contemporary version:
This is my confession. It’s unpleasant, but I’m thinking it’s supposed to feel that way.
Lord, I don’t give you 100%. Worship, Bible study and prayer are not priorities. I’m reluctant to share my faith.
I’m pretty choosy about caring for my neighbors. I’m prejudiced toward some, even contemptuous of others. Across town and across the ocean, I turn a blind eye to suffering, injustice and cruelty. I’m slow to volunteer hoping somebody else will step up.
And I’m slow to forgive, prone to hold on to slights and grudges. I’m impatient. I stretch the truth, even lie. I’m a prideful, envious and self-indulgent. I profess concern for the care of your creation, but I’m not very dedicated to the cause.
Indeed, I am a hypocrite…yet you care for me. You have sacrificed for me. You forgive me. You have my back 24/7.
Accept my confession, Father. Rouse me to repentance. Draw me closer during Lent. Amen.
I commend to you a modern confession [#893] in the Methodist Hymnal. It was added to the 1989 hymnbook, and it comes from Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa.