Lord, Have Mercy. Christ, Have Mercy. Lord, Have Mercy.

A few days ago, I asked the question on Facebook: “Why do we spend so much time in our liturgies, begging for mercy, as though we were abused children and God was our abuser, rather than simply acknowledging our sins before the One who is the Source of all love and all forgiveness?” Comments included those who agreed and those who had convinced themselves that “Lord, have mercy” really is simply an acknowledgment of God’s mercy rather than what it plainly says.

Happily, in the Episcopal Church, are making some progress in this area as can be easily seen by comparing three of our most recent “Confessions of Sin” in The Book of Common Prayer and Enriching our Worship.

Rite One: “Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness which we from time to time most grievously have committed, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us.  We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable.  Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us most merciful Father; for thy Son Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter please thee in newness of life, to the honor and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Whew!)

Rite Two: “Most merciful God, we confess that we sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.  We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.  We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.  For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.” (Better)

Enriching our Worship: “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.” (Better still…but not best).

Let’s keep working on it!

 

 

2 Responses to “Lord, Have Mercy. Christ, Have Mercy. Lord, Have Mercy.”

  1. Cynthia Hallas Says:

    I sometimes hear that the phrase “…the evil done on our behalf” (EOW) is somewhere between problematic and offensive to people. On the one hand, if allowing evil to be done on our behalf is sinful (which I believe scripture attests to be true) then why not just lump that into the sins that we commit? I think, though, that we need a specific reminder that we are held accountable for the evil we allow to happen – through our fear, our lack on engagement in social issues, our willingness to separate ourselves from our neighbor, etc.

  2. Christopher Epting Says:

    Yes, I agree. It’s too easy to forget about the sins in which we are complicit but do not actually ” commit. “

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