Pause for reflection and confession.
In the Name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Friends in Christ, as we gather, we seek to speak the truth of the difficulties we have witnessed in our church.
Our church of the reformation has been too long captive to bias and misinformation.
We have not remembered the life giving words of our own Confessions.
We have not respected the gift of sexuality, nor the joy, delight and vulnerability sexual intimacy creates between husband and wife.
We have not honored faithful and loving promises, marriages, and the gift and responsibility of children.
We have not acted quickly enough for some who have died and have not made it to this day.
We have not accorded all families with the dignity and respect they deserve.
We have not spoken up.
We have betrayed fellow members of the body of Christ because of cultural prejudice.
We have misused Scripture as a tool that we could manipulate and emend at will.
We have forced celibacy upon some, without supporting all in their vocation to faithful chastity whether single or married.
We have encouraged silence and complicity.
We have promoted invisibility and dishonesty.
We have hardened our hearts with bitterness and despair.
Our actions have destroyed faith and have led people away from the gospel's call to repentence as the kingdom of God draws near.
(A bell is rung. A shofar is blown. Silence is kept.)
(Absolution is proclaimed in the words of the prophet Isaiah. Water is poured into the font.)
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, he who formed you: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; for I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.
Do not fear, for I am with you; I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King. Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,... Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise. I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
Through Christ, God has indeed done a new thing and is continually doing a new thing through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Shower us with your Holy Spirit. Renew our lives, and our life as your people, with your forgiveness, grace and love.
(This was the rite of confession and absolution used at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, in the service of Reception to the ELCA Roster, found here: http://sps7rite.blogspot.com/. I post it here in order to give credit to the source of my own work.)