Prayers of confession for those who have retired

1. Visual sand painting (5 minutes)

SandAvailable on DVD from Willow Creek online bookshop.

An innovative creative artist at work who uses sand to make images from creation, the fall, the crucifixion and the hope to come.

You will need: DVD player, TV screen or projector, loudspeakers for sound.

Invite everyone to watch this fascinating creative artist at work who uses sand to create pictures. Discuss together your reactions to the sand painting, followed by a prayer:

May we long
Not for the smoothness of sand
Which looks good, and feels flat,
And is easy to walk on
But will not withstand a storm.

May we build our hopes on you.
Though you may not prevent the storms,
You keep us firm
Within them.
So even if we're battered
We cannot fall
Except deeper into a crevice
In the rock;
Deeper into you.

Jane Grayshon

From Angela Ashwin, The Book of a Thousand Prayers, Zondervan, 2002.

2. Stones at the foot of the cross

Build a 'cairn' at the foot of a small cross as a memorial of how God takes and accepts the heavy stones of our lives with their jagged and smooth edges. When we give them over to God, he lifts the burdens of our lives.

A cairnYou will need: a number of stones of all shapes, sizes, colours and hues from a beach or rocky garden (make sure they are reasonably clean); a small cross that can be surrounded with stones to make a cairn; music (optional).

Place the stones in a sturdy basket or bowl and ask people to choose one. Invite everyone to close their eyes and feel their stone for jagged edges, smooth edges, and to reflect on how these edges can symbolise the sharp edges of our tongues and actions. The stone can symbolise the hurtful things we do and say, or the things we omit to do or say. Stones can often become a burden and weigh us down, especially when they build up one on top of another. Someone could read this prayer aloud or it could be projected on a screen.

O God, you desire truth in the inmost heart;
Forgive me my sins against truth
the untruth within me,
the half-lies, the evasions,
the exaggerations, the lying silences,
the sef-deceits,
the masks I wear before the world.
Let me stand naked before you,
And see myself as I really am.
Then, grant me truth in the inward parts
And keep me in truth always.

George Appleton (1902-93) adapted

Then invite everyone to come and leave their stone (symbolising their burden) at the foot of the cross as a memorial cairn. It may be appropriate to play some quiet music.

3. Liturgical confession and 'Shape our lives'

Praying hands

The Church of Scotland's Report, 'Church Without Walls', identifies five shapers for the life of the church. These are: spirituality of grace, the gospels, locality, friendship, and the gifts of the Spirit. Jonny Baker wrote this confession and liturgy around those shapers which he used in the worship session he led at Church Without Walls: 2008 - The National Gathering.

Confession

When we have acted out of judgement rather than grace
Lord have mercy
Lord have mercy

When we have forgotten your story and been shaped by the story of the Western Dream of the good life
Christ have mercy
Christ have mercy

When church has taken all our energy and we've not had time to get stuck into our locality
Lord have mercy
Lord have mercy

When all our friends have become Christians and we haven't made new friendships
Christ have mercy
Christ have mercy

When we have acted in our own strength and forgotten the gifts of your Spirit
Lord have mercy
Lord have mercy

But when we are filled with grace,
live out the gospel
in our locality
make good friends
and share the gifts of the Spirit
then God rejoices with us

Almighty God who forgives all who who truly repent
have mercy on us
pardon and deliver us from our sins
and keep us in life eternal
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

'Shape our lives' liturgy

A person leaving through a doorwayShape our lives with generosity and gift
Help us love without judging and with no strings attached
We will enter the kingdom through the door marked 'grace'

Your life, death and resurrection are good news
Let your story shape our story and imagination
We will enter the kingdom through the door marked 'gospels'

You became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood
Shape our lives with vision that can be lived close at hand and not far away
We will enter the kingdom through the door marked 'local'

You have called us friends
Shape us into faithful and kind friends for others
We will enter the kingdom through the door marked 'friendship'

We will go through these doors in the power of the Spirit,
sharing in the gifts of the Spirit
knowing that Jesus has gone through them first.
Amen

4. Helpful prayer and liturgical books

The Bible open at Psalm 23

There are literally hundreds of helpful prayer and liturgy books available, so where do you start to begin to create your own resource? They don’t have to be in flowery old English. It’s really important to source prayers that resonate with you and speak into your own life and context.

Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.

Books of prayers

Liturgy/service books

5. Prayer in brokenness

Footsteps in sand

Find a prayer that takes into account that people will have many stories and life experiences to reflect upon and so therefore focuses on the idea of journey or pilgrimage. For example, here is a prayer from grace.

God of broken people and places (Far I have come, Far I must go)

God of broken people and broken places
We confess to you our love of comfort,
of the known and predictable,
of the safe and secure.
We recognise that you call us into liminal space
To leave what we know and venture with you into desert and wilderness, into blindness and discomfort
We want to follow you, but it’s hard to leave what we know
Help us to trust you, and to set out.

On the journey of faith,
Far I have come, far I must go.

God of broken people and broken places
We thank you for all that (put the name of your group here) has been to us and to many others
We thank you for the space to listen, to grow, to create, to be challenged
We recognise that you are calling us on
To leave what we know and venture with you into new things, into engagement and participation, into creativity and risk, into new structures and opportunities
We want to follow you, but it’s hard to leave what we know and we’re not sure where we're going
Help us to trust you, and to set out.

On the journey of faith,
Far we have come, far we must go.

God of rebuilt people and rebuilt places
You have plans for deserts and wilderness
'Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
The thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
Grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness.'

God of transformation, we look forward to what you will do
With our lives and with (put the name of your group here)

On the journey of faith
Far we have come, far we must go.