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Confession and Pardon Liturgy

Confession and pardon – sins of uniformity, oppression, passivity, self-loathing

God of justice, God of mercy, as one we confess our failings:

Under the guise of seeking unity, we force uniformity
and reject all those who are just too different from us to fit in. 
Convict us. Embolden us. Teach us the long repentance road.

Under the guise of protecting the peace, we enable injustice,
Appeasing the majority while the minoritized are thrown aside.
Convict us. Embolden us. Teach us the long repentance road. 

When our violence manifests in hateful words or striking hands,
In guns leveled against the oppressed and walls erected against the stranger, 
Convict us. Embolden us. Teach us the long repentance road.

When our violence manifests in words swallowed, in hands tied,
Standing by when we should jump in, holding our tongue when we should speak out, 
Convict us. Embolden us. Teach us the long repentance road.

When we do violence to our own spirits
By allowing shame, or self-hate, or resentment to smolder unaddressed,
Convict us. Embolden us. Teach us the long repentance road.


Friends, our remorse is a sign of God’s grace already at work within us.
Assured of God’s mercy, we are free to seek new ways of being together. 

God’s Word forgives and redeems us. God’s Breath revitalizes us for the journey. Empowered by this good news, let us share God’s love with one another.


I wrote this for a virtual service on August 16, 2020 (15A Proper), a service that centered around themes of reconciliation and interdependence. I preached on Genesis 45:1-15, exploring Joseph’s gender nonconformity as a source for the brothers’ violence against Joseph; how Joseph was brought from suffering into thriving and was celebrated for the very gifts that the brothers had hated; and how Joseph as the wronged party got to choose how and when reconciliation would take place.

Meanwhile, I wove that theme of reconciliation into my liturgy alongside our need for community and to draw the circles of our community ever wider, drawing from the alternative reading Isaiah 56:1-8.

To read or watch my sermon, visit here.

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Confession and Pardon LGBT/queer Liturgy Weddings

Confession and Pardon for a queer wedding

CALL TO CONFESSION

God desires that all Creation might be one, 
that love be central to human life; 
and that all beings might dwell together in right relationship. 

Trusting in God’s mercy, let us come to God and acknowledge
all that separates us from love’s source, all that wounds creation.
Let us pray:


PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Creator, you fashioned us with care and called us Good. 
Yet we point fingers at one another,
calling each other broken, evil, wrong.

Liberator, you freed us from the captivity of our own limitations and fears, teaching us your Truth, 
yet we continue to subject one another to yokes of falsehood, cruelty, and shame.  

Mischievous Spirit, you flow wherever you will, breathing fresh life into long-dead things and blowing down the walls we build – 
yet we lean into death and division, tearing your Creation apart.
We construct national borders and gender and race
to hold all that is different from us at arm’s length.

Forgive us. Nourish and invigorate us. 
Empower us to love bigger, seek deeper –
teach us how to join you in healing the world where we can.


ASSURING OF PARDON

Hear God’s words of grace for us, for you: 
“And I, once I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

This is the new thing God has done and is doing: 
She has freed us from suffering and injustice
so that we might live into the goodness we were made to inhabit. 

Let this truth liberate you and bring you peace: you are forgiven. 
Let us share the peace of Jesus with one another – especially with those strangers who today become our family. 

(passing of the peace)

Friends new and old, we have been freed from sin and suffering –
and freed for joy and love. 

It is one iteration of that God-given love
that brings us together today:

The love uniting [name] and [name].


This is the liturgy I wrote for the wedding between me and Leah. Some of the sins I bring to this confession are ones inflicted particularly against LGBTQA+ persons. God calls us to a world of joy and justice, where such hatred is no more, so that we all might live and serve together.

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Call to worship Charge and Benediction Confession and Pardon Holy Days Liturgy My poetry Reflections for worship services

Ascension liturgy (Acts 1, Luke 24, Jesus’s wounds)

Call to Worship:

Here we are, gathered in many spaces but in One Body.
Here we are, ready to worship God, ready to be transformed.

Today we remember Jesus’s ascension,
a rising up of human flesh to mingle with the Divine.

We praise the one who died and rose,
who lifts us all – body and spirit – in his outstretched, wounded arms. 

As we join in prayer and song and praise,
may the Holy Spirit fill us to bursting
both with anticipation of Christ’s return
and an irresistible urge to seek God’s kin(g)dom here and now.

Opening Prayer:

Great Creator,
You who crafted the cosmos and cradle it to your heart,
you who will the flourishing of all your creatures
and weave a tapestry of redemption for humanity –
these embodied spirits whom you fashioned in your image –

Teach us to be your hands, working for the liberation and restoration 
of the outcast and those who fear what they do not know,
of the oppressor and the oppressed.

In the name of your Child Jesus,
who rose in body to you
and who sent us the Holy Spirit to be the very heartbeat of the world,
we pray.

Amen.


Confessional Prayer

Risen God,

too often we live as though you abandoned us
when you ascended into heaven –
as though you are not alive and active in the world,
as though we could make up our own morality,
as though we should wait, dormant, for your return, watching the sky instead of being active vessels for your love and restoration.

When we fail to balance our hope in your return
with living out your already-present Spirit: forgive us. 

When anxiety holds us back: encourage us.
When apathy or resignation leaves us feeling powerless: empower us.

Amen.


Reflection

We are the Body of Christ.

Just like Jesus our God,
we are embodied spirits and inspirited bodies –
bodies of many colors, many (dis)abilities and shapes,
many desires and dreams.

When the world tells us our bodies are wrong,
that we are not the right color or size, that we are useless or broken,
that we love the wrong way,

may the vision of our embodied God –
Jesus of the wounded hands and feet,
Jesus of the brown and callused skin,
Jesus of the poor person’s belly
and kind person’s love of food and fellowship –
appear to us.

When we feel swayed to judge
the body of another and what they do with it
may the vision of Jesus’s table, set for
women and eunuchs, tax collectors and poor persons,
practitioners of many faiths, the Roman centurion and his lover,
deaf and blind persons, lepers and those with mental illness,
and ever other stranger and outcast
inspire us to expand our own table. 

When we feel anxious as the first disciples did
that Jesus arose in body, seeming to leave us on earth behind,
may his Spirit enfold us, a reminder that we were not abandoned
but empowered and transformed.

In the body and divinity of Jesus,
heaven meets earth –
thanks be to God!


Benediction 

The Risen One is here among us, here and now.
Jesus calls to us, not to look toward the sky,
but into the faces of those who surround us –

to listen to them; to commune with them;
to live peaceably with them whenever possible
and to disrupt injustice wherever necessary.

May we hear that voice and invitation as we go out into the world,
here and now, together,
to celebrate and cultivate the gifts of the Holy Spirit
whom we find wherever there is life.

Amen.

Categories
Confession and Pardon Liturgy

Confession and pardon: trauma, isolation, scarcity and individualism

God With Us, as one we confess our failings:

In times of trauma and hardship,
you call us to lean on one another and on you.
But we retreat into ourselves instead,
to wallow in our own troubles alone.  
We imagine ourselves to be burdens,
or accuse others of being dead weight. 

In a world whose resources we have poisoned,
a society divided into the haves and the have-nots,
your promise of abundance is just about impossible to believe.

And so we fall prey to myths of scarcity and individualism
that transform friends into enemies,
comrades into competitors.

When we deny our place in the network of your Creation,
when we reject the protests of those who thirst for justice,
when we fail to question authority,

Challenge us. Teach us. Restore us to your Way. 


ASSURANCE OF PARDON

Friends, our remorse is a sign of God’s grace already at work within us.
Assured of God’s mercy, we are liberated to seek new ways of being together. 


I wrote this for a virtual service centered around trauma and community’s role in the journey to recovery; an affirmation of protest is also woven throughout the liturgy. My sermon was based around Exodus 17:1-7, looking at the wilderness wandering through a lens of generational trauma and applying it to the collective and individual traumas we are facing today, from those caused by pandemic and police violence to personal struggles.

Watch or read my sermon here.

Categories
Confession and Pardon Liturgy

Confession and Pardon: harming Creation, exploiting our siblings

God of justice, God of mercy, as one we confess our failings:

Though you conceived all the cosmos and called it Good,
We disregard the holiness of Creation, exploiting it for our own gain.

Though you gave birth to one human race
bestowing your image and your blessing on every human being,
We deny that image in those we mark as Other,
as if there were only enough blessing for some of us.

We rob our siblings of their autonomy and dignity;
we force them to live in fear and poverty,
and use their very bodies to fuel our own prosperity. 

And when we are the ones oppressed, our exhaustion and fear poison us,
warping our ability to trust, causing us to lash out at those we love.

In this dog-eat-dog world, this zero-sum game of divide-and-conquer, 
We become too wrapped up in our own survival
to lift up our siblings drowning alongside us.


ASSURANCE OF PARDON

Friends, our remorse is a sign of God’s grace already at work within us. Assured of God’s mercy, we are free to seek new ways of being together. 

God’s Word forgives and redeems us. God’s Breath revitalizes us for the journey. Emboldened by this good news, let us share God’s love with one another. 


I wrote this for a service with a central theme of imagination, and how God’s gift of imagination can help us envision and enact a better world, a world liberated from oppressive binary and hierarchical structures like cishetero-patriarchy and white supremacy. My sermon’s text was Genesis 25:19-34 and explored the relationship between Jacob – with his marginalizing identities who assimilates into patriarchy – and Esau with his privilege who eventually seeks out reconciliation with his brother. You can read or watch the sermon here.

While the Genesis text was my sermon focus, I wanted to fit the lectionary’s Gospel reading into my liturgy. That reading was Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, the Parable of the Sower.