Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Identificational Repentance and the Massacre of Glencoe

Identificational Repentance and the Massacre of Glencoe
Fr. Dale Matson
"Identificational Repentance" is a term referring to a type of prayer which identifies with and confesses before God the corporate sins of one's nation, people, church, or family (John Dawson, Healing America's Wounds, p. 15, Ventura: Regal, 1994).
I was the preacher this past Sunday for both a celebration of Christ the King and The Kirkin of the Tartans, an annual celebration. My mother’s family name is Campbell and anyone familiar with the history of Scotland is aware of the Glencoe Massacre. I included this in the homily and offered an apology to the MacDonald Clan. In my research of this I had not seen any evidence of contrition on the part of my historical brethren the Campbell’s. This singular act may have been the worst act of treachery in the history of Scotland and remains a stain on the Campbell family and all of Scotland. As I read the account of the massacre during the service, I was filled with remorse and sorrow for the heinous act and breach of trust. I was overcome with tears while I asked for forgiveness from the MacDonald’s and God.
The next day one of our parishioners sent me an email about the service and the concept of Identificational Repentance. While this idea has been around for some time, I had never heard of the term before this. There are some Scriptural passages that illustrate the concept. “Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God.” (Dan. 9:20) and ”let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father's house have sinned.” (Neh. 1:6).
Why should there be Identificational repentance? “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” (Exodus 20:5).
In the Book of Occasional Services for the eighth station of the Way of the Cross, we say the following, “Teach your Church, O Lord, to mourn the sins of which it is guilty, and to repent and forsake them; that, by your pardoning grace, the results of our iniquities may not be visited upon our children and our children's children; through Jesus Christ our Lord; Amen.” (1994, p.66).
In the mystical body of our Lord Jesus Christ, we offer prayers of intercession in our prayers of the people for our deceased brethren. “And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear [especially__________], beseeching thee to grant them continual growth in thy love and service.” (BCP HE I P. 330).
It seems reasonable that since we are called to be intercessors in the here and now for events past, present and future that we should ask for God’s forgiveness for those things past where we are not personally responsible but responsible as a member of a church, clan, gang, nation or people. God laid this on my heart. If God has laid something like this on your heart, I believe it is something to consider.
"If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Amen

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