Letting Go & Letting Come: An Ash Wednesday Litany

This year I created a litany for our Ash Wednesday gathering at MCC. I felt compelled to do this, because many of the confessions that are available (to my knowledge) tend to be anti-human. They play into a negative and unhelpful theology that says being human is a bad thing. Yet, in the scriptures, God calls being human good! I’m more and more convinced that bad theology creates bad anthropology. When we misunderstand who we are, and how God sees us, that can lead to toxic theologies that don’t contribute to our healing, wholeness, and flourishing.  

Our problem isn’t that we are human; our problem is that, often, we treat one another in ways that are subhuman. Gossip, hate, greed, and all of the negative and painful ways we can live, aren’t examples of just “being human.” Instead, they are examples of things that happen when we live beneath our humanity. So, below is the text we used during our gathering last Wednesday evening. I wanted to create a sense of acknowledging the ways we’ve lived sub-humanly, and then also opening ourselves to what could be, if we choose, with God’s help, to live into the fullness of our humanity.  

Note: The underlined text is intended to be read corporately. 


Our Source and Ground of Being,
In you we live, move, and exist.
In your image we have been made.
You celebrate the goodness of our humanity,
and call us to live fully and love deeply.

Yet, today we confess that, in many ways,
we choose to live beneath our good humanness.
In things we have done, and things we have left undone,
we have neglected our calling to be your image bearers
to all of creation.

We confess, Lord.
We have dehumanized others by refusing to love them, by gossiping about them, and by making fun of them.

We confess, Lord.
We have dug our heels into us versus them thinking that makes it easy to condemn entire groups of people that we do not know.

We confess, Lord.
We have been reactionary, allowing fear to control us and dictate our actions.

We confess, Lord.
We have sought an eye for an eye, instead of loving our enemies.

We confess, Lord.

We have closed our ears to the cries of the poor and oppressed,
the immigrant, the orphan, and the widow among us.

We confess, Lord.

We have been greedy, and in our lust for more we have closed our eyes to all the opportunities to share out of our abundance with the hungry, the naked, and the stranger who are in need.

 We confess, Lord.
We have failed to steward creation responsibly, thinking only of ourselves and not of future generations, or the One who gifted us such a beautiful world.

 We confess, Lord.
And in the process, we have dehumanized ourselves.

We have willingly defined ourselves as consumers, and taken our identity and worth from how much money we have or what we possess, instead of grounding our identity in our calling to bear your image.

We confess, Lord.
We have been hypocritical, judgmental, and angry;
All of these are destructive, not only to others, but also to ourselves.

We confess, Lord.
We have used our religion as a weapon of exclusion,
instead of building a bigger table for all.

We confess, Lord.

Give us eyes to see,
ears to hear,
and hearts that are open.

Let it be, Lord.
May we live into the fullness of our humanity,
the humanity that you called “good.”

Let it be, Lord.

May we live with hands open in generosity toward God,

our neighbor, and even our enemy.

 Let it be, Lord.
May we take seriously the call of Jesus to embrace our crosses,
instead of seeking crosses for our enemies.

Let it be, Lord.
May we steward the earth, and our brief lives here, with gratitude and care.

Let it be, Lord.
May we tune our hearts to the music of the Spirit,
following her lead as we take the next right step on our journey.

Let it be, Lord.
May we live lives that imitate Jesus, being broken and poured in love for others.

Let it be, Lord.
May we practice resurrection, here and now.

Let it be, Lord.
May we experience the full and abundant life,
to which Jesus invites us, here and now.

And everybody said,


7 thoughts on “Letting Go & Letting Come: An Ash Wednesday Litany

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