During worship at Journey tonight we discussed 1 John 1:8-2:2, which is where some of the text from the Lutheran Book of Worship’s (LBW) brief order for confession and forgiveness is found (pdf). This piece of liturgy is probably familiar to people who grew up in traditional Lutheran churches because it most likely would have been part of worship every Sunday since they were young. Being part of a Lutheran congregation (Calvary Lutheran), we try to stay true to our Lutheran heritage, but we also make efforts to simply be Christian while “doing” and “being” Church in new/different ways that are meaningful to people, regardless of whether they grew up in a church or not. So tonight, during worship, we took time to discuss the words of confession and forgiveness from a hymnal that is now 30 years old, and in groups of 2-3 people throughout the sanctuary, we re-wrote the liturgy in our own words. Each group was assigned a short segment of the liturgy and during the music-worship after the message, the pieces that each group re-wrote were typed together and put onto slides (because of the way it was constructed, being written in small segments by different groups of people, it reads a bit disjointed). Then, before the last song of the night, we gave this new version (or “remix”) its first public reading. It was a very cool thing to witness and be part of, and it could have never been done without a congregation that is open to trying new things, filled with imagination and of course, technology was an important element as well (since without it, the words could have never been put together so quickly and displayed on screens for the entire congregation to read together).
Here is what we came up with.
Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness (remix)
Written by the Journey worship community at Calvary Lutheran in Golden Valley, MN on June 15, 2008
Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Leader: Almighty God, you know us and our lives. Clean up our hearts and minds by your example. We will try to love you – to show you what you are through the things we say and do, by the power of Christ’s life, death and resurrection.
Leader: We have to stop being egotistical – to go against society – and be honest with ourselves. Fortunately, if we admit to these sins, God, who is a constant and reliable source for every need and the ultimate judge of all truth, will forgive us for all the ways we turn against him and give us a fresh start.
(Silence for reflection and self-examination)
Leader: Most merciful God,
All: we admit that we are prone to sin and we need your help to free us. Every day of our lives we sin against you with our actions and our inability to act, as well as our hurtful words of painful silence – we continually drop the ball – sin has consumed our lives and there are a lot of things we have not done but should be doing to glorify your name. We have held back from loving you fully. We have focused on loving ourselves, and with what we have left, we have not reached out to our neighbors. Your son sacrificed and died for us. Show us your mercy, forgive our sins, refresh our hearts and guide us through our days. We love you and want to be like you. We are thankful for your grace so that our sins do not permanently separate us from you.
Leader: We are in need of a savior – in need of mercy – and God provided Jesus who loves us so much he died for us. Through Jesus’ love, God has forgiven all our sins. If you have faith, you belong to God’s family and have been sealed with the Holy Spirit.
(Please feel free to use this version in your own worship settings, but if you’re looking for a new way to incorporate confession and forgiveness into worship I would strongly suggest having your community write (or re-write) something new and create a more organic/homemade liturgy. If you have questions about the specifics of how we went about doing this at Journey, you can email me.)