Dear Parishioners and Friends,
“God of all mercy, we confess that we have sinned against you, opposing your will in our lives. We have denied your goodness in each other, in ourselves, and in the world you have created. We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf. Forgive, restore, and strengthen us through our Savior Jesus Christ, that we may abide in your love and serve only your will. Amen.”
This prayer comes from the office of morning prayer in “Enriching Our Worship 1,” which is a supplement to the Book of Common Prayer. I find the third sentence rather poignant, especially the last part acknowledging that we are the beneficiaries (knowingly or unknowingly) of evil done on our behalf.
Vast systems of evil and injustice exist that were not created by any one individual, in which whole sectors of humanity either benefit or suffer. For us in this country, the “original sin” is slavery. Vast fortunes were made, and a whole country was built literally on the backs of an enslaved population. To put that into a local context, our village and church exist because of a tobacco business that relied upon slave labor for more than a century. It isn’t too hard to see how many of us benefit to this day from “evil done on our behalf.”
What are we to do with this? We cannot change the past, but we can acknowledge it. It is not enough to simply “move on.” A brighter and more just future begins with a hard look at our past and the uncomfortable work of repentance.
And so, in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of enslaved Africans to English America, St. Mary’s will
join with churches around the country
this Sunday at 3:00 p.m. in tolling our bell for one minute. It is a small gesture, but a very public one, and one that I hope will be part of a renewed passion for seeking and serving Christ in all whom we meet.
Blessings, Father Rick