I stumbled across this today and I absolutely LOVE it! Far too often, liturgy is assumed to be a one-way street. This confession from the Iona community in Scotland embraces the mutuality between liturgist and congregation. We are ALL in this together! Amen!
Before God, with the people of God, I confess to my brokenness:
To the ways I wound my life, the lives of others and the life of the world
May God forgive you, Christ renew you,
and the Spirit enable you to grow in love.
Before God, with the people of God, we confess to our brokenness:
To the ways we wound our lives,
the lives of others
and the life of the world.
May God forgive you, Christ renew you, and the spirit enable you to grow in love.
This is a prayer from the Iona community. It is a responsive benediction that is best led (in my opinion) not from the pulpit, lectern, font, or table but in the very midst of the people with confidence, conviction, and clarity.*
The cross, we will take it.
The bread, we will break it.
The pain, we will bear it.
The joy, we will share it.
The Gospel, we will live it.
The love, we will give it.
The light, we will cherish it.
The darkness, God shall perish it!
This is a prayer that I first experienced at a worship service at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. I have used this as the responsive benediction for most of the Sundays that I have been preaching at Silver Creek Presbyterian Church in Rome, Georgia. I love this prayer for many reasons. First and foremost, like any good liturgy, the language is rhythmic, poetic and yet very easy to grasp. The responsive nature of the benediction gives a sense of shared responsibility among the congregation. It is almost as if the one presiding and the congregation are making a promise to themselves or, perhaps more accurately, are keeping a promise already made to them by God. As this prayer is uttered as we prepare to follow the Word into the world, this prayer empowers us by reminding us that it is our job to cherish the light and it is God’s job to perish the darkness!
*worship spaces differ greatly. For some communities, the table and font are the central focal point with the congregation gathered around them. If so, this prayer would best be done from that location. If not, care should be taken that the physical location of this liturgy is intimate!
The following prayer is from the Iona Community. What powerful language!
We believe that God is present
in the darkness before dawn;
in the waiting and uncertainy
where fear and courage join hands,
conflict and caring link arms,
and the sun rises over barbed wire.
We believe in a with-us God
Who sits down in our midst
to share our humanity.
We affirm a faith
That takes us beyond the safe place
into action, into vulnerability.
and into the streets.
We commit ourselves to work for change
and put us on the line;
to bear responsibility, to take risks,
live powerfully and face humiliation;
to stand with those on the edge;
to chose life
and be used by the Spirit
for God’s new community of hope.
Filed under Lent, Liturgy