Friday, February 7, 2014
This is being published on Friday, but I am writing this Monday morning. I was able to finally get to church yesterday, after not being able to get there for what seems like months. Either bad weather, snow/ice on streets and sidewalks making walking impossible for me, or just that my body refusing to move beyond a few feet has kept me home and watching church services on television from other churches in town. So it was a huge treat and blessing to be able to worship with friends, take communion, and then visit with my friends after the service over a cup of coffee. It was also the church's annual meeting after the service, where we elected some new elders and deacons for the year. There was no new business - no more building or remodeling projects lined up for this year, which is very rare since we have had that on the agenda for over 10 years. That was all finished this past year and all that is left is to finish paying for it. I was also able to take my auction items in to be displayed, and to be there in time for the auction on Wednesday night. I hope to get to the auction but weather will play a big part in that as well. I also don't like to drive at night, but since I only have a few blocks to go, I think I can handle it. The biggest problem is being able to park close enough to the doors so that I don't have far to walk.
What I really wanted to write about today is the prayer of confession that we used during the service. The sermon was about the Beatitudes and the prayer of confession was based on the Beatitudes. I found them very though provoking and true and thought you might find the same thing. I pray that you find them prodding your conscience as they did mine, and that they might give you some guidelines to living a better Christian life.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION USING THE BEATITUDES
L(Leader): God blesses those who realize their need for him,
for the kingdom of heaven is given to them.
P(People's response): But we have been proud in spirit, inflated with pride in our own self-sufficiency. We have forgotten how needy we are.
L: God bless those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
P: But we have not mourned over our sins,
instead we have insulated ourselves from those around us,
from their pain, needs, loneliness, and suffering.
We have even hardened ourselves so that we are unaware that our own lives cause grief to the Lord.
L: God blesses those who are gentle and lowly,
for the whole earth will be their inheritance.
P: But we have valued toughness over gentleness.
We have too often chosen to be concerned with ourselves
rather than with our brothers and sisters and neighbors.
Like the prodigal son, we want to satisfy ourselves
rather than our Father.
L: God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
for they will receive it in full.
P: But we have hungered after the pleasures,
prestige, and possessions of this temporal world.
Like Esau, we have despised our birthright
by choosing to satisfy our immediate desires.
L: God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
P: But we have often presided as harsh judges
over the lives of others.
We have been quick to place blame
on anything or anyone but ourselves.
We have avoided obligations to care for
or to help people in need.
L: God blesses those whose hearts are pure
for they will see God.
P: But we have defiled our hearts
with idols of our own choosing, doubting that
God will keep his Word and his promises.
We continually compromise the truth
by trying to find meaning and security
in our jobs, our friends, our pleasures, our projects--
But not in God.
L: God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
P: But we are often at war with one another.
In a thousand little ways we demand to be catered to.
We seldom esteem others as more important than ourselves.
We often create strife by demanding our way
rather than by walking in God's Spirit.
L: God blesses those who are persecuted
because they live for God,
for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
P: But we have too often retreated
from the disapproval of others.
We've sought to please the world rather than
risking the disapproval of those who need the Messiah.
We regard rejection for righteousness
as a burden to be borne, rather than
an honor to be humbly received.
L: Lord, please show us your mercy.
P: Lord, have mercy upon us
in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen
There are two things I ask for every day - mercy and grace. It is by these two things that I have salvation. It is by these two things that I have all that I have. It is by these two things that I am blessed each and every day. God gives us exactly what we need for each day of our lives - no more and no less, just as He did for the Israelites in the wilderness regarding manna. They were to gather just what they needed for the day. If they took more, the extra became inedible.