When Boundaries Offer Freedom: A Litany of Confession

By Rev. Kerry Greenhill © 2017

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

Based on Exodus 20:1-20

a wooden fence is backlit by the sun low in the sky

Photo by Nick Tiemeyer on Unsplash.com

One:    I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of slavery;
you shall have no other gods before me.

Many:            Holy One, we confess we have forgotten
who you are and who we are,
the bondage from which you freed us,
the power of your love and compassion for all who suffer.
We confess we have allowed many, many things to come before you
in our hearts, our schedules, our budgets, our relationships, our lives.
Forgive us, O God of liberation,
and set us free from allegiances too small for our souls
once more.

One:    You shall not make for yourself an idol,
whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above,
or that is on the earth beneath,
or that is in the water under the earth.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them;
for I the Lord your God am a jealous God,
punishing children for the iniquity of parents,
to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,
but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation
of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Many:            We confess we have many idols,
from flags to Bibles to bottom line to military might.
We have bowed down to images on screens and in magazines,
on billboards and in seats of power.
We have acted for our own sake, thinking nothing of the generations to come,
allowing the images we have created –
images of profit, popularity, power, prestige,
whiteness, maleness, attractiveness, vengeance –
to warp our self-image and our ability to see others
as made in your own image, sacred and beloved.
Forgive us, O God of creation,
and set us free from our illusions once more.

One:    You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God,
for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Many:            God of Mystery,
we confess we throw your name around as casually as our own.
We claim to speak for you in times of crisis and of celebration,
pronouncing your judgment on those we dislike
and your blessing when we dwell in privilege.
Forgive us, transcendent One,
remind us that You Are Who You Will Be,
greater and wilder than we can imagine,
and set us free from our preconceived notions once more.

One:    Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God;
you shall not do any work—
you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave,
your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them,
but rested the seventh day;
therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Many:            We confess we have not kept the Sabbath,
valuing productivity over presence, progress over peace.
We have worked ourselves and those who serve us
beyond a healthy balance,
making no allowance for illness or caregiving,
insisting on convenience and busy-ness,
wanting our goods and services as cheap as possible
regardless of the needs of others.
Forgive us, God of justice,
our participation in exploitation,
and set us free from our belief in doing over being
once more.

One:    12 Honor your father and your mother,
so that your days may be long in the land
that the Lord your God is giving you.

Many:            We confess that we have lost sight of our responsibilities
to our elders and to those who have gone before us.
We have proclaimed ourselves all self-made and independent,
and have worshiped innovation and progress
to the exclusion of heritage and memory.
Forgive us, God of relationship,
and set us free from our narcissism once more.

One:    13 You shall not kill.

Many:            We confess that we have embraced the myth of redemptive violence,
allowing countless others to kill and be killed in our name.
We have hedged and qualified and re-translated as murder
your command not to take away the life of another,
and we have justified ourselves again and again
for not doing more to promote human flourishing.
Forgive us, God of life,
and set us free from our addiction to death once more.

One:    14 You shall not commit adultery.

Many:            We confess that we have broken promises to those we claim to love,
and have regarded as meaningless
the boundaries that keep relationships healthy and sacred.
Forgive us, God of love,
and set us free from uncontrolled impulses once more.

One:    15 You shall not steal.

Many:            We confess that we have taken what is not ours,
including land and dignity and respect,
robbing our neighbors of their birthright
because we regard them as less human than ourselves.
We have allowed our greed to override our integrity.
Forgive us, God of covenant,
and set us free from insatiable desires once more.

One:    16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Many:            We confess that we have not always spoken truly,
that we have gossiped and slandered and betrayed one another.
We have allowed others to use slurs that degrade and dishonor,
have said nothing in response to racist or sexist remarks,
have constructed straw figures of our opponents’ arguments,
and failed to acknowledge their better intentions.
Forgive us, God of empathy,
and set us free from deception and lies once more.

One:    17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;
you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave,
or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Many:            We confess that we have looked at others with lust in our hearts,
seeing them not as people or subjects,
but as objects of our own desires.
We have allowed envy to dwell in us
and to distort our perception of all that we see,
forgetting what we have already
when we behold what we wish was ours as well.
Forgive us, God of faithful providence,
and set us free from a never-satisfied heart once more.

One:    God of grace-filled law and loving commandments,
guide us to see in your rules
healthy boundaries for abundant life.

All:      We thank you for the grace we know in Jesus Christ,
and recommit ourselves to the path of justice and integrity,
wholeness and right relationship,
in his name, once more. Amen.

 

Permission is granted to reproduce this liturgy for use in worship. Please include “Litany of Confession by Rev. Kerry Greenhill, http://www.SacredStonesMinistries.org” in any printed or projected reference. If you would like to make a donation in appreciation of this resource, you can do so through PayPal here.

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