Lent: A Time for Corporate Repentance

God promises that if we repent and turn from our evil ways, God will forgive. Many of us regularly repent of our individual sin, yet Scripture also shows us examples of corporate repentance:

  • In Jeremiah, God says, “At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it.”[1]
  • In Jonah, when the people of Nineveh fast and repent, “God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.”[2]
  • In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells the church in Corinth, “I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance; for you felt godly grief, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation…”[3]

Cross over wood tableThis season of Lent offers the Christian Church timely opportunity for the practice of corporate repentance around issues of racial justice. This week you are invited to join in corporate repentance for sins against African Americans and People of Color in America…

How long, LORD, must I call for help but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, Violence! but you do not save?

Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?

How long must we wait, Lord? When will justice come? Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Destruction and violence are before me; Lord. There is strife and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed and justice never prevails. How long, Lord? How long must we wait before the social and economic conditions that adhere to color in our country are no more? How many more of our black and brown brothers and sisters need to be arrested, pulled over, incarcerated, killed with little to no explanation as to why.

Placated by nothing but “sir, mam, please calm down” Lord, how long?

Lord how long must some live in fear and mistrust of the very individuals whose duty it was to protect. Lord, how long? Lord, how long before the church joins in saying, no more instead of aiming towards preserving its own right to life.

To say this American dream, this life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not good enough for us if it does not include all who are made in your image. Lord, how long? How long?

Holy God, we come to you today pleading that you would give us a hunger for justice. God, you who know all and see all, help us to see the error of our ways and rescue us from the temptation to see one another as enemies. Lord, plant in us instead the ability to see one another as individuals made in your image and to hear one another’s stories for the real experiences that they are. Jesus, forgive us for the systems we have created that elevate some and lower others and give us courage to speak honestly about our own prejudice and the ways in which we have participated in perpetuating them. God comfort those of us who are frustrated, help us to avoid bitterness and indifference and give us a righteous anger that leads to action and reconciliation.

Lord, in your mercy, forgive us. [4]

[1] Jeremiah 18: 7-8, NRSV
[2] Jonah 3:10, NRSV
[3] 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, NRSV
[4] Prayer crafted by Elizabeth Rueda-Herrera for SPU Gather 3-3-15; inspired by Psalm 13, Habakkuk 1 and a letter to God around the events of #Ferguson
Post Authored by Anna M. Miller, Lead Intercessor