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Confessing Our Complicity and Committing to Change

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

At Virginia Mennonite Missions, the biblical vision that drives our ministry is found in Revelation 7:9-10, which states, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”

The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have been horrific reminders of what people of color equally made in the image of God experience every day in our society: unequal treatment, discrimination, and violence. We lament how short we fall from realizing Scripture’s vision of universal justice, righteousness and peace for all people through allegiance to Jesus, the Lamb of God. Not only is our country wracked by division, hatred, and racism, but too often the church is as well.

At a recent prayer time, several staff members gave voice to our collective confession for complicity in systemic injustice and racism. We share this prayer with you as a statement of our ongoing need for God’s mercy and transformation. We also commit to learning from our sisters and brothers of color in their suffering and in their strength, and to taking steps toward undoing racism in our church and in our culture. If we do not stand with them now, how will we be ready to worship the Lamb together in the life to come?

In lament and hope,

Lavonne Lehman
Board Chair

Aaron Kauffman

A Prayer of Confession

“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” Luke 11:4 NLT

Lord, we confess our sins to you.

We have rebelled against you.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to love one another and acknowledge the image of God we all bear.
We have refused to take up our cross and have sought instead to protect our own interests.
We have not been ambassadors of your reconciling love.

Merciful God, forgive us our sins.

Forgive us our sins of willful ignorance, complicity, indifference and shallow regret without godly sorrow that brings repentance and salvation. Like those in the parable who passed by the man attacked by robbers, we have not regarded the suffering of others as deserving our time, money, or effort.

Forgive and change us, O Lord!

Forgive us for hardening our hearts to the cry of our brothers and sisters who suffer daily — the minority, the alien, the refugee, the poor, the hungry, the naked, the prisoner, the child. Like Pharaoh, we have built empires on the backs of exploited workers and have benefited from “the way things are.” Unlike you, Lord Jesus, we have not overturned the tables of injustice and abusive power.

Forgive and change us, O Lord!

Forgive us our sins of idolatry — the staking of our lives on things that are temporal instead of eternal, on our blessings instead of you, generous God. Like the church in Laodicea, we have been satisfied with our wealth and privilege, not recognizing that we have become wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. We have loved the wrong things and become lukewarm towards you.

Forgive and change us, O Lord!

Forgive us our sins of selfishness, self-advancement, self-promotion, self-defense — our ever self-bending thoughts and actions. Like the builders of the Tower of Babel, we have tried to “make a name for ourselves” and sought the glory that is yours alone. We have failed to acknowledge that you alone are the answer to this broken world.

Forgive and change us, O Lord!

Holy Father, we know our transgressions, and our sins are ever before us.
We plead the blood of your Son for the washing of our sins and the healing of the nations.
Create in us a clean heart and renew us with your Holy Spirit.
Restore us as a church to the joy of your salvation.
Give us the attitude of Jesus Christ, who humbled himself even unto death, to reconcile us to you and make lasting peace possible among all people.
And give us courage to live this gospel of reconciliation before a watching world. Amen.

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