We had a wonderful AW (Ash Wednesday) service. It wasn’t all fun, yet it was good. In our self-centered lifestyles it is hard to submit to periods and journeys that don’t flatter our egos and tickle our fancies. AW is the kick-off for the season of Lent. A time used for repentance and fasting, for introspection and cries of “Mercy God”, the problem with this is that I don’t like doing the repentance thing. Why? because I’m still too full of myself.

As I prepared for the evening service it dawned on me that I’m so inflated with my own pride. I’m not usually at a place where I’m wrecked by introspection. Now I know that it’s not a good thing to be preoccupied with my own wretchedness, but I usually don’t err to that side.

In fact I think most of us who have lived in the corridors of faith for a substantial time, stand the danger of faking our own sinfulness. If we fake thinking that we’re sinners, then we will only experience fake forgiveness, thereby nullifying the awesome sacrifice that we’ll reflect on in forty days! It reminds me of John’s stern words:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1:8-10

The Ash Wednesday liturgy confronted my pride and after I struggled with the prayers for a while, it deflated my ego-filled balloon. This is exactly why I love the liturgies and prayers of the church; it directs me to a new reality. I will pray through this prayer of confession during Lent, join me – but do it with care en trepidation:

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and
strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We
have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us.
We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved
your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the
pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our self indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation
of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those
more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and
our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to
commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done:
for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our
indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our
neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those
who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of
concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.