Prayer of Confession

Prayer of Confession for My Denomination

I was reading through some of my old worship liturgies this morning and came across this prayer of confession. I wrote it with this passage from Deuteronomy 30 in mind:

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

As I read this I realized that part of my utter, deep sadness for my denomination right now (MCUSA) is that I see us repeatedly choosing death over life. Death for ourselves, because we are alienating–if not outright rejecting–individuals, families, and a large swath of an entire generation. Death for others, both spiritually–as LGBTQ people and allies wander away from an unwelcoming church–and sometimes physically–when LGBTQ youth believe that their deepest longings for human relationship are sinful and shameful, some of them commit suicide.

And I see us repeatedly choosing curses over blessings. We are denying our church the blessings God wants to give us through the gifts of LGBTQ people. And we are denying LGBTQ people the blessings God wants to bestow on them through the church.

I am sad to see us clinging to law over love, death over life, curses over blessings. So today, this is my prayer for my denomination; a prayer for repentance, forgiveness, and renewal.

 

Gracious and Holy God,
For those times we have chosen death over life for ourselves,
Forgive us. [Silence]
For those times we have chosen death over life for others,
Forgive us. [Silence]
For those times we have chosen not to receive your blessings,
Forgive us. [Silence]
For those times we have prevented others from receiving your blessings,
Forgive us. [Silence]
For each time we have made the easy choice of law over the hard choice of love,
Forgive us. [Silence]
O God of mercy,
Hear our prayers. [Silence]

Categories: GLBT Concerns, Mennonites, Prayer of Confession | 2 Comments

Worship Piece: Psalm 119

I’m excited because Jill Clingan, my good friend and a fabulous writer, is preaching at Peace Mennonite this Sunday! We are still worshiping our way through Acts, and she will be focusing on Acts 21:17-26. I’ve chosen Psalm 119:33-40 as the Old Testament reading–thinking about our love for the law and the interplay of grace.

So here is our Call to Worship:

Like the psalmist,
we worship with faithfulness and longing.
God, give us understanding;
Lead us on your paths;
Turn our hearts to love;
Turn our eyes to truth;
Confirm your promise of life–
abundant and eternal life.
May our worship be your praise.
May our lives be holy offerings.
Amen.

 

And the prayer of confession (also based on/inspired by these verses from Psalm 119):

Forgive hearts consumed with selfish gain.
Turn our hearts toward love for others.
Forgive eyes gazing at worthless things of this world.
Turn our eyes toward your presence, your action, within us and around us.
Forgive hands that push people away.
Turn our hands to welcome the stranger, the outcast, the enemy.
Forgive feet kicking up dust on dead-end roads.
Turn our feet onto your path of righteousness and life.
By the grace of the forgiving, transforming One–Jesus Christ–
Forgive us, turn us, O God.

And the assurance of pardon: “Hear now the Good News: By the grace of the Holy One, we are forgiven. By the Holy power, we are being transformed. Thanks be to God.”

Categories: Call to Worship, Prayer of Confession, Worship Pieces | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Acts 11 & World Communion

I wish I could say that I carefully planned out our Acts series so that World Communion Sunday would correspond to Peter’s vision-fueled defense of eating with uncircumcised men. (Acts 11:1-18) But I can’t. It was all Holy Spirit . . . or dumb luck. But it is working out well. Below are a couple of pieces I wrote for Sunday’s worship service.

Call to Worship

Here in this place, God offers us food,
so we take and eat.
Here in this place, our neighbors are hungry,
so we share the bread and the cup.
Here in this place, the table extends
beyond our friends
beyond those who agree with us
beyond these walls
beyond the borders
around the world.
Let us taste and see that our God is good.
Let us worship God with joy.

 

Prayer of Confession

God of deep, abounding, astounding, boundary-breaking love,
Forgive our closed doors;
forgive our closed eyes and ears;
forgive our insulated living,
forgive our safe and comfortable tables.

Categories: Call to Worship, Prayer of Confession, Worship Pieces | 2 Comments

Wednesday Worship Pieces: Church Celebration

church bigThis Sunday we are celebrating the work of our little church and encouraging people to step forward and serve according to their gifts and passions. Here are some of the worship pieces we will be using:

–One of my favorite calls to worship from Ann B. Day, which you can find here.

–A hymn I wrote with another church member, which is here.

–This prayer of thanksgiving (adapted from an earlier post):

Dear God, giver of life, for each and every part of this church body
We give you thanks.
For those who teach and those who learn. For those who speak and those who listen.
We thank you Jesus, holy teacher.
For those who lead and those who follow. For those working up front and those working in the background.
We give you thanks, O Spirit who enables all work.
For those who share gifts of writing, drawing, sewing, cooking, singing, playing instruments, gardening, and all spirit-filled creative endeavors
We thank you, our Creator God.
For those who share gifts of administration, organization, planning, visioning, coordinating, hospitality, wisdom, discernment, faith, knowledge and all godly attributes necessary to the well being of this body
We give you thanks, O Word of light.
For those who give their time and money; who do what needs done: moving chairs, fixing toilets, caring for children, conducting worship, distributing mail, making phone calls, paying bills,
We thank you, the Giver of all Good things.
For those who share your love and care with others by praying, smiling, hugging, baking, laughing, reaching out and settling in,

We give you thanks, Holy Spirit, our bond of unity.
We thank you for each part of Peace Mennonite church, and we thank you for your power and grace that forms the parts into something more than we could ever be on our own–participants in the Body of Christ.
Amen

–This prayer of confession & assurance of pardon (opening line from 1 Peter 4:10):

Holy One,
We long to be faithful stewards of your abundant grace.

To serve each other in love and humility.
To serve your world with wisdom and energy.

Forgive us when we stumble over pride,
when our words and actions are not guided by love.

Turn our hearts when we act in folly.
Restore our energy when it is gone.

Sometimes, many times, O God, our efforts fail.
But your abundant grace is strong and eternal,
And forgiveness is ours through Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God.
Amen.

–And this offertory prayer:

God, whose giving knows no ending,
we offer up the treasure that you have entrusted to us;
we offer up the skills and time that you have graciously given to us;
we offer up ourselves in service and praise.
Receive these gifts by your grace.
Multiply and use them through the power of the Holy Spirit
to accomplish Christ’s work of love in the world. Amen.

*As always, you are welcome to use these pieces in your own worship setting. Attribution is appreciated.

Categories: Call to Worship, Offertory Prayer, Prayer of Confession, Worship Pieces | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wednesday Worship Piece: Being Disciples

This Sunday will be our final Sunday in a series on Jesus’ disciples. I will preach on Luke 24:36-53–Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples. Plus we will share communion together this week.

Call to Worship

Leader: We come this morning to spend time on the path with other disciples.
Side 1: Others who are wondering.
Side 2: Others who are waiting.
Side 1: Others who are growing.
Side 2: Others who are giving.
Side 1: Others who are messing up.
Side 2: Others who are speaking up.
Side 1: Others who are stepping out.
Side 2: Others who are standing down.
Side 1: Others who are hungry
Side 2: Even as they reach out to feed others.
Leader: May our journey this morning be worship.
All: May the One we follow be praised!

Prayer of Confession & Assurance of Pardon

God, You have told us to trust in you with all of our hearts.
You have told us not to lean on our own understanding.
And so we try to trust,
but we get very nervous when we don’t understand.
We don’t understand what you mean by
“This bread is my body.”
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”

We don’t understand who will betray you
or why
or what that will mean for us.

We don’t understand how death is victory.
We don’t understand post-resurrection life–yours or ours.
We don’t understand why you ask us to stay here,
And we’re afraid we will somehow miss the power when it comes down from on high.

Silence

Assurance of Pardon

Jesus is gentle with our doubts. The Spirit offers us peace in the midst of our lack of understanding. The One who created us leads us step by step into deeper trust. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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Weekly Worship Piece: Confession

This prayer of confession and assurance of pardon is adapted from the Message version of Ephesians 2:1-10.

Holy God, there is always a temptation to be mired in that old stagnant life of sin.
We let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell us how to live.
We fill our lungs with polluted unbelief,
and then exhale disobedience.
We want to do what we feel like doing,
when we felt like doing it.

It’s a wonder God didn’t lose loose the divine temper
and do away with the whole lot of us.

Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love,
God embraces us.
God takes our sin-dead lives
and makes us alive in Christ.

Saving is all God’s idea, and all Divine work.
All we do is trust.
We neither make nor save ourselves.
God does both the making and saving.
Thanks be to God!

 

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Weekly Worship Piece: Mark 14:17-26

Here at Peace Mennonite we’re starting a series on the disciples that will take us through to Advent. This week’s disciple is Judas–who is fun to begin with, plus his story works well with communion Sunday.

 

Call to Worship

As Jesus requested,
the table has been prepared,
and all are welcome at the meal.
So come–each of you, all of you–come to the table:
Those, like Peter, with more enthusiasm than resolve–
Come to the table;
Those, like James and John, dismayed by Kingdom priorities–
Come to the table;
Those, like Mary, full of love and grief–
Come to the table;
Those, like Martha, struggling for faith in the face of despair–
Come to the table;
Those, like Judas, disillusioned and rebellious–
Come to the table.
Jesus offers the bread and the cup to all who have gathered,
So let us worship God with joy!

Prayer of Confession

Holy God,
Forgive our deceptions–of others and of ourselves.
Forgive our greed.
Forgive our lack of imagination.
Forgive our failure to trust you fully.

Assurance of Pardon

The bread is offered to each person at the table. The cup is given to all–for the forgiveness of sins. It is through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ that we now receive forgiveness. Amen.

 

Categories: Call to Worship, Communion, Prayer of Confession, Worship Pieces | Leave a comment

Call and Confession for Matthew 4:18-22

This coming Sunday, we are beginning a worship series on Jesus’ disciples–so I’m starting it off with the call stories in Matthew 4:18-22 and 9:9.  The idea in the first responsive line in the call to worship is to have each person say his or her own name. This will take some prior explanation by the worship leader, so we’ll see how it goes. (And yes, I know, I ended a sentence with a preposition. Thus the following prayer of confession :-)

Call to Worship:

Jesus comes along side us and calls us by name:
“[your name], follow me.”
A simple call. A hard call.
Because following requires leaving.
And we look around to see who else Jesus could be talking to.
And we look around to see the trappings of the life we know.
It’s hard to leave our nets and walk away from the lake.
But we have come this far,
to this place
where we can listen
and be transformed.

 

Prayer of Confession:

Christ Jesus,
We hear your invitation: “Follow me.”
And we want to follow,
but we also want to stay where we are.
We want to receive what you offer,
but we also want to cling to what we already have.
And so we are stuck.

[silence]

Holy One,
Calm our fears.
Forgive our selfishness.
Loosen our grip and liven our feet.

 

Assurance of Pardon (from Matthew 11:28-29)

Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” May your souls rest in the assurance that, through Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

Categories: Call to Worship, Prayer of Confession, Worship Pieces | Leave a comment

Weekly Worship Piece: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

This Call to Worship and Prayer of Confession are based on this week’s Gospel reading from the lectionary. (You know I am a liturgy nerd when I read the lectionary texts and write prayers for FUN while I’m on Sabbatical!)

 

Call to Worship

Some of us are exhausted.
We come to rest.
Some of us are curious about Jesus.
We come to learn.
Some of us are hungry.
We come to be fed.
Some of us are disoriented.
We come to pray.
Some of us are broken.
We come to be healed.
We gather around you this morning, O Christ.
Teach us, feed us, hear us, heal us.
Grant us your peace. Amen.

 

Prayer of Confession

Jesus,
Sometimes we follow you like fans, rather than disciples.
We want you for what we think you can give us.
Friendship
Peace
Certainty
Validation
Security
We are a clamoring and confused crowd.
Have compassion on us.
Heal us and send us forth.

 

Assurance of Pardon

We know from Scripture that all who touched Jesus were healed, that all who confess are forgiven. Forgiveness and healing are yours in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Categories: Call to Worship, Prayer of Confession, Worship Pieces | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Weekly Worship Piece: Mark 6

The worship piece this week is a prayer of confession and assurance of pardon based on the New Testament lectionary readings for the upcoming Sunday.  Blessings to all who are planning worship this week!

Prayer of Confession (based on Mark 6:7-13)

Holy One of Nazareth,
We see you calm storms, heal illness, even restore life,
Yet we still struggle to trust you.
You send us out,
But we want to stay home.
You provide partners for the journey,
But we want to go it alone.
You give us authority over evil,
But we don’t know how to use it.
You say we need only the clothes on our back and a staff in our hand,
But we pile the car full of food, clothes, tools and toys. We make sure our phones are charged and our GPS is on.
You tell us to accept hospitality,
But we don’t like to put people out.
You say that if people are unkind, we should simply shake the dust off of our feet,
But we would rather get mad and post about it on Facebook.
We have much to learn from you, Jesus, about traveling gracefully through this life.
Forgive our failings and grant us a deeper trust.

 

Assurance of Pardon (from 2 Corinthians 12:9):

Hear these words from Christ: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So go forth in the power of the almighty, who forgives you and loves you. Amen.

Categories: Prayer of Confession, Worship Pieces | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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