Reconciliation and Fire
Ensure that there are no smoke detectors in the vicinity, and if there are temporarily remove the batteries! Arrange a place to safely burn small pieces of paper as the symbol of forgiveness of sin.
The general tone should be set by saying that we are exploring a return to God and reconciliation with each other. 'Come back with all your heart', not with a great show, but inwardly in the secret place of your heart, by not neglecting the grace we have received. The emphasis might be on the joyful aspect of repentance - the return of the Prodigal Son being a powerful picture of this (Luke 15:11-32).
A hymn with a confessional quality to it may be sung e.g. Kyrie eleison (No 92 Cry Hosanna Ed. by Betty Pulkingham and Mimi Farra - Hodder and Stoughton) or Per Crucem (p 109 in Music from Taize, Jacques Berthier, Collins 1982).
Let us pray
Lord, protect us in the struggle against evil as we come before you seeking to be reconciled with you, ourselves, our neighbour and creation.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit ever one God world without end. Amen
Some possible readings:
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Matthew 6: 1-6 and 16-18.
My sisters and brothers, God calls us to conversion; let us therefore ask him for the grace of sincere repentance.
Lord, send your Spirit among us to cleanse us with the fire of your Spirit.
May he make of us a living sacrifice so that in every place, we may praise your glory
and proclaim your loving compassion. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
Music and words follow (some suggestions follow) to help people to write down on anything that they feel causes a division between themselves and God (in technical language ‘their sins’). No one will see them! At the end of the period allowed for confession a fire is lit and people are invited to put their confession in the flames as a symbol of how God utterly blots them out.
Any form of appropriate words may be used during the Confession - the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) being one example. Another form is given below:
Jesus teaches us to love the Lord our God with our whole heart and mind. So we ask that we may see ourselves as God sees us.
- Do I live for self, or for God?
- Do I try to do his will or my own?
- Do I pray regularly?
- What are the false gods in my heart, idols of money etc?
- Have I used God's name in vain?
Jesus teaches us to love our neighbours as ourselves; in the light of his example we might ask ourselves:
- Do I want to know my neighbour, or am I content with a small circle of friends?
- Am I totally absorbed with my family to the extent of Excluding others?
- Do I spend enough time with my family?
- Does my life reflect my vocation as a baptised Christian?
- Do I set a good example?
- Do I see my work as a service to others?
- Am I honest in my dealings with others?
- Am I aware and do I take due notice of my social responsibility?
- Am I concerned about justice and the needs of the poor?
- Do I care for the sick and the weak?
- Have I injured my neighbour by gossip?
- Am I willing to forgive those who have wronged me?
Jesus teaches us that we must strive to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. We might therefore ask ourselves:
- Have I acted as my conscience suggests?
- Have I sinned against my own body with drink, over-eating etc.
- Am I proud and self-opinionated?
- Have I lied?
- Have I indulged in self-pity?
- Am I patient?
- Have I been lazy, apathetic or indifferent?
- Do I over-work?
God set us over creation as its steward.
- Am I wasteful of resources?
- Do I appreciate the created order?
- Do I use the gifts that God has given to me?
(The pieces of paper are put in the fire)
Concluding General Confession
I confess to almighty God,
and to you my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask you, my brothers and sisters,
in the communion of saints,
to pray for me to the Lord our God
God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
A hymn giving thanks for God's forgiveness may be sung. (God forgave my sin in Jesus' name - Mission Praise, Marshal, Morgan and Scott 1983 )