I wrote this prayer/poem of confession for my Theology of Worship and Music class. following it is a theological explanation of the text.
Holy and Merciful Father
What has become of us without your love?
We are wandering destitute without your presence
We are like the steadfast trees, never bowing down
Hindered by trunks steadfast to this world
And rootless to Your truths
There is no darkness in You, yet,
Our light is a slow fade
And we ache as the world aches since the fall in the Garden
As the mighty oaks sacrifice their leaves to dance praises in the wind
Help us to not merely exist
And to make ourselves barren of our transgressions
We have preferred our will to Yours
We don’t listen
We don’t understand
We have spoken when we should have remained silent
And remained silent when we should have spoken
Allowing others to suffer because we are afraid of shadows
We pour our sorrows before You
Sorrows too heavy to carry
To real to hide
Too deep to undo
We are mortally wounded –defaced masterpieces
We are no good apart from You
Imperfect, inconsistent, incomplete,
Forgive what our lips tremble to name
What our hearts can no longer bear
And what has become of us
For the prayer of confession I relied on many very valuable sources such as The Worship Sourcebook and Understanding Catholic Christianity. These books helped me to understand the importance of formation in the church.
This prayer of confession begins by addressing the truth that corporately we have distanced ourselves from God, in action and thought. I meditated on the prayer of confession that we sometimes use during Chapel and Gathering services, “…we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed. By what we have done, and by what we have left undone…” The words in the prayer wondering, hindered, destitute, rootless create the image of something missing from our lives – The desecration of the covenant relationship with our Father, and the fatal wound left in our hearts.
I use the metaphor of trees to depict the way that humankind clings to the physical world despite its lack of permanence. We overlook and ignore the offer from the Lord willingly or we are so wrapped up in the glitter and shine of creation and pulled into the consumerism of this world.
“He is the light, and in Him there is no darkness” was the inspiration for the next section of the prayer. We have been called as believers to be a light in the world as He is a light, yet we often fail when the light needs to shine the most.
Again I dwelt on the created world for the next section. While walking through the central campus just beyond the Pine Grove One blustery fall morning as the trees had turned color and the wind was swirling the leaves as the trees released them from their branches. I was surrounded by colors dancing in the wind in a Narnia like scene. The trees were not merely existing, as many of us do, but showing one way how they actively participate in the ordered world. This is along the lines of the passage in scripture that talks about how if we remain silent, even the rocks will cry out to the Lord.
We tend to complain that God does not answer our prayers out loud and tell us what to do clearly and audibly, yet the Word says he is always there, always listening. In 1 Kings 19:11-1 it is written “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (KJV). The prayer of confession continues with a reflection of this passage. First of all we do not listen to the shouts and whispers of the Lord, because we are too busy, not paying attention, or choose ignore. We do not understand the ways of the Lord because of the distance we put between the Lord and ourselves.
The Prayer continues by allowing for a time of confession of our lack of concern for others, the widow, the orphan, the freckled faced kid next door, we are too concerned with other things to follow the commandment to “love the Lord with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves” Because we are too busy or we are afraid. Fear, I believe is an important thing to confess and work through. Fear separates us from fully devoting our lives to the Lord’s service. We are too afraid of the shadow-places in ourselves to help others in the shadow-places in their lives.
Sometimes we choose to ignore and try to forget the sins in our lives, but we cannot pretend that they didn’t happen and hide them from an All-knowing Savior. We are held down and burdened by carrying the weight of our transgressions ourselves and no matter how hard we try to fix things, without the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, we can’t.
The next few lines of the confession prayer come from a reading in Understanding Catholic Christianity. The author explains that we are defaced masterpieces, perfect creations of the Master Artist destroyed by sin. He writes that “the greater the masterpiece, the greater its defacement” (85). The Lord on the sixth day formed man from the dust and declared us good. Yet because of the fall of mankind, we were separated from the Lord and became no good on our own. The restoration of the covenant relationship through Jesus Christ by confession of sin and confession of belief begins the healing process for our souls that were made for communion with the Lord.
The prayer ends with a section from a general prayer of confession located in The Worship Sourcebook. Meditating on these words has been very helpful to me during this process. “Forgive what our lips tremble to name. What our hearts can no longer bear…” resonates within my heart and hopefully the hearts of those involved in the corporate confession. There are some things we do not share with others, but cannot hide from God. We hold onto some of our sins, afraid that they are too deeply set it to be washed away. This brings us back to fear. Fear again becomes something that we focus on that hinders our communion with the Lord that we must confess and begin to let go of through prayer and meditation.