Attitudes That Exclude

Unpacking my bags from our trip to the Appleton/Neenah area, I pulled out my copy of the Sunday bulletin for the morning services at First Presbyterian Neenah I participated in on Sunday.  Flipping through the bulletin a final time, I recalled how moved I was by the Prayer of Confession that was part of the service.

Loving God, we admit to attitudes that exclude rather than embrace.  We prefer to associate with others who think and act as we do.  We turn away from those who are different from us.  We identify some as enemies to be avoided or even destroyed.  Forgive us, God, for seeking to limit your family.  Awaken us to the limits of our understanding and the narrowness of our dealings.  Show us the better ways you intend and make us bold to respond, we pray in Jesus’ name.

Perhaps as you read these lines, you squirmed a bit.  I know I did, forced as I was to acknowledge the truth that we do, in fact, act in ways that seek to limit God’s family.  The admission, though, is the first step to opening ourselves to God’s grace to grow toward greater embrace of all others.

(The prayer of confession is from Gathered by Love, The Pilgrim Press)