"Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts..."
The opening collect for Ash Wednesday, for me, is an affront to prejudice, racism, and White supremacy. It leads me back to the beginning of Genesis. God saw fit to create an abundance of diversity in the very beginning of Creation and call all of it good. It is the sin of pride and self importance that lures us into thinking, believing, and naming as bad or lesser any portion of God's array of diverse skin colors, hair types, languages, and other human characteristics. God hates nothing that God has made!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the vision God has for this world, Beloved Community. When I look at that word, Beloved, I see within it both Be Love--a directive for us to embody the love of Christ--and Be Loved--rest in the knowledge that God's love for us is real. God hates nothing that God has made!
Ada María Isasi-Díaz was a mujerista theologian who spoke of the Kin-dom of God. My understanding of the Kin-dom of God, is that we will be able to see it and live into it, when we can really see and celebrate God's diverse design for humanity. Until then, we struggle. We lose our sense of belonging when we divide people into categories of good and bad, beautiful and disgusting, only some beloved and others rejected. We cannot understand that we are loved, or that we are called to love, without seeing our neighbors as actual kin. There is no room for that in the Kin-dom of God.
Like the Grinch, my heart has been capable of growing three sizes and more, but not in the ways I first thought it would. My heart for God has been changed for the better by acknowledging my need to learn more and listen more to the oppression of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples. We need our hearts to be transformed; to go through the pain of acknowledging our failings so that we can be reconciled with one another, and be made ready to live into the Kin-dom of God. My faith has been transformed, for the better, by coming to God with a contrite heart; so that God can keep creating in me a new heart, a heart for all whom God has created in God's image, and has called very good.
-The Reverend Jane-Allison Wiggin-Nettles
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;
in your great compassion blot out my offenses.
Wash me through and through from my wickedness
and cleanse me from my sin. Amen. -