When we look at our world with tragic situations near and far, the word ‘lament’ comes to mind.
We lament a world that has so much pain – but we also need to recognize that we, as a society and a community, are culpable for some of this pain either through our actions, or inaction.
Knowing that we are partly responsible can cause ache and misery that can stay locked in our hearts and leave us spiritually broken.
The Bible teaches us to bring our feelings of guilt before God as being the only way to find true spiritual healing.
One important way we do this in worship is in our prayers of confession.
We need to name and to reflect, in God’s presence, in the silence of our hearts.
In this we are assured of God’s forgiveness.
Today we will focus our prayer on communal confession, naming and acknowledging scars we have allowed as a society, or as a community, where we all share in the blame.
To name all communal pain would be a long list.
Today, in our prayer of confession we will name only a very few.
The prayer and the naming will be in the first person plural “we.”
Although it is human nature to want to rush past rather than pause and confront emotional pain, a physical gesture helps to focus, to name, to reflect, to confess.
After our prayer please take time for quiet contemplation and response.
For those who wish, you are invited to light a candle after our prayer.
(During this time of contemplation we will sing the African American spiritual “I will trust in the Lord.”)
Loving God, we come to you this morning to bring before you the pain that is buried deep inside.
We suffer with difficult feelings, and memories of times we have caused hurt through the years, often towards those we have loved the most.
As a first world society, we have become voracious consumers of all things, far out of proportion to our needs, at the expense of impoverished societies around the world.
We have created a society of rampant inequality where excess exists beside dire need.
We have damaged your creation through this endless consumption.
We have allowed ourselves to be in constant need of entertainment and stimulation through our worship of technology.
The internet, for all its benefits, has become our social obsession.
Ordinary people have become mere statistics and numbers in our quest for information about everything.
Through the ever-present mass media we glorify celebrities – stars of sports, music, and movies, rather than people who work to benefit humanity.
We have allowed you, God, to be squeezed out of our collective reality.
We have created a society where women are objectified, girls are sexualized from an early age, and violence against women is rampant.
We have allowed our families and children to drift away from our churches and the faith, leaving a spiritually broken society that is ungrounded, with nothing to believe in but ‘stuff’.
We have neglected the indigenous people of our country and damaged them through our use of residential schools and reservations with improper education and living conditions.
This has broken their communities physically and spiritually, leaving their children feeling worthless and hopeless.
We see the number of teen suicides in these communities.
In all the different ways we have contributed to this suffering, we ask for your healing presence to free us from our burden.
We name this pain in silence and lay it before you in humble supplication. Amen
Assurance of God’s forgiveness:
God never promised to make us blameless for the pain that life brings, but we do know that God is with us in all circumstances and at all times, even in our imperfection.
It is in our ongoing conversation with God, both verbal and non-verbal, that we are able to find the peace and serenity both to cope and to be made spiritually whole, healed through God’s shalom.