Preceding the service, people representing a group
(e.g. race, colour, religion, class, family, movement,
church) should identify a wrong pattern of
behaviour (e.g. misuse of power) which their
forebears imposed and which still has harmful
repercussions (e.g. hostility or low self-image) for
the heirs of the victims. Ask each group to draw
up a statement confessing to these wrongs and
asking God’s forgiveness. If appropriate,
forgiveness can also be asked of the
representatives of the victim group. These
statements may be read out.
You are present in this place, Lord,
in its pains and in its prayers.
Into your hands we place
neglect that it has suffered,
actions that have been experienced by some
hardness that has developed because of lack of love,
patterns of hostility and misrepresentation.
We invite you
into the place of hardness,
into the place of hostility,
into the place of fear,
into the place of neglect,
into . . .
OLD TESTAMENT READING
Still the land cries out for deeds of shame
committed on it which cause ills to fester yet.
There may be a song of lament.
This paraphrase of the Book of Proverbs, chapter
30, verses 21–23, teaches that certain behaviour
creates such disease that the earth itself is affected:
There are four things that the earth itself cannot
tolerate: a person who usurps someone in high
office, someone who mindlessly devours what
they have not worked for; a person filled with
hate who enters a marriage designed for love;
employees who have an affair with their
God who weeps over the city;
may we know the abandoned places,
may we sense the destructive patterns,
may we feel the hurting groups,
may we embrace the despairs and hopes
on this place for which we pray.
NEW TESTAMENT READING
Have mercy upon this place, and spare it,
Merciful One who comes to save.
An act of Repentance and Healing
Representatives may bring earth or stones that represent hurting areas and make a mound. A simple wooden cross which may be made of sticks or branches
is placed in it.
We confess on behalf of this place . . .
these sins that mar its life . . .
these areas that have been neglected . . .
these unjust deeds that have been inflicted . . .
these integrities that have been violated . . .
In particular . . . (the statements are read out).
If representatives of the victim group are present they
may offer words of forgiveness.
We plant the cross of Christ in this soil
which carries both our pride and our shame.
May Christ set this place free
from the bitterness of memories,
and the power of the past to control the present.
The victory of the cross over neglect and fear.
The victory of the cross over hatred and division.
God bless this earth on which we live and work
and make community. Take from it the corroding effects of human betrayal.
Bring from it goodness that will nourish and renew us all.
There may be singing, followed by handshakes or other
gestures of reconciliation and by silence and celebration.
Your kingdom come in the people we have
represented today as it is in heaven.
May we grow in the dignity
of being children in one family of God.
Silent or free prayer
Jesus, born in a stable,
make here your home.
May your cross free it,
may your prayers hallow it.
May your peace still it,
may your life renew it.
Representatives of different groups may say the
following to one another.
Deep peace we breathe into you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the forgiving heart to you.
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you.
There may be singing.