October 11

Jeremiah 14:19-22

“We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, the iniquity of our ancestors, for we have sinned against you.” vs. 20

According to Jeremiah the people of Judah acknowledged the iniquity of their ancestors and furthermore, confessed it to be their own. Their attitude contrasts with the attitudes of those in our time who refuse to accept any responsibility for the despicable acts of prior generations. In some places teachers are forbidden from teaching anything about the past that might make their students feel uncomfortable. The argument is simple: “Since I didn’t persecute Jews or hold slaves or drive indiginous people from their land, there is no reason for me to feel any guilt on behalf of those who did.” And many would agree. The problem is that the effects of those oppressive actions continue to be felt by millions of hurting people all over the world today. And the benefits gained by the oppressors continue to be enjoyed by their descendants. Whether we like it or not, we are connected to those who have gone before us! Jeremiah knew that–and says that confession is a community obligation. If he’s right, we at least have the responsibility to study the dark sides of our history as the people of God–and if it makes us feel bad, well, it’s never too late for repentance. With corporate confession there is at least the hope of changing how we behave. The truth is we can’t rewrite the future if we don’t know the past!

Thought for the Day: How have I benefited from the sins of my ancestors?

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