Sunday, when you kneel (or stand) for the Confession of Sin, remember these words:
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
– Donald Trump.
I could explore ad nauseum all the ways in which Donald Trump is categorically wrong in his assertion that Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries (all conveniently countries dominated by people of color… but this comment is totally not racist) are “shitholes.” I could write about how American and European colonialism stripped these countries of natural and human resources over hundreds of years. I could enumerate how there are many places in the United States that, due to a capitalist system that prizes profits over actual people or care the environment, could resemble what some would refer to as a shithole. I could write about all the exceptions to this false narrative of American exceptionalism that suggests that countries populated by people of color are nothing but impoverished, needy, war-torn, shitholes.
Instead, allow those words to marinate in your spirit. The President of the United States of America, in a fit of pride, spoke them about people whom God calls beloved and land that God calls good.
Allow those words to sear a hole in your mind. Allow them to scour the tenderness of your heart. Allow them to rumble around the recesses of your soul.
In fact, allow every disrespectful, dehumanizing, dishonest, shitty word Donald Trump has spoken since he announced his desire to run for the Office of President of the United States to disrupt your regularly scheduled worship.
Because when we kneel to confess, we are confessing these words and actions done on our behalf. 62,000,000 Americans ensured that Donald Trump, a man who can’t be bothered to bridle his tongue and adopt a mere modicum of the Christian virtue he claims to possess, speaks on behalf of us and our nation. Try as we might (and trust me, I try), we cannot separate ourselves from him. To the other 7+ billion human beings on this planet, Donald Trump speaks for us.
For that, we must confess.
We must repent.
We must acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness.
In the words of Basil the Great, we must “continually weep for our sins.”
When we gather for common worship, we don’t make a confession of our individual sins alone. The primary function of the General Confession in public worship is an acknowledgement of the cosmic, complex network of sin that we all participate in at some level, a network that disorders our relationship to God and one another. Sin is so pervasive, it is not only includes things done and left undone, but it also takes the form of evil done on our behalf, or evil foisted upon us. Like the finely woven net of a spider, a disruption anywhere in this intricate network effects and infects everyone on it.
We must beseech the Sovereign God, the Lover of Souls, to hear us that God might vouchsafe to deliver us from this evil, that we might be strengthened to ensure that this evil never passes this way again.
O God of all the nations, especially Haiti, El Salvador, and all the countries and peoples of Africa,
Have mercy upon us.
From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; from all want of charity,
Good Lord, deliver us.
That it may please thee to give us true repentance; to forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to endue us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives according to thy holy Word,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
O Christ, hear us.
For the love of God, please hear us.