Lord Have Mercy on Us Your Church

Photo Credit: Bill Showalter

Photo Credit: Bill Showalter

This is a prayer of confession based on Isaiah 61. The leader prayed the written words on behalf of the people and then invited the congregation's to a sung response with the chorus of "Lord Have Mercy." 

Oh, Sovereign Lord, we your Church confess our distance from the Spirit you have placed upon us.
We have strayed from the mission for which you've anointed us.
We have mostly been good news for the rich.
We have comforted the bloated.
We have demanded that prisoners stay locked up
   and that those on Death Row be executed as quickly as possible.
We have told those who rejoice that they experience God’s favor
   and those who mourn that they experience God’s judgment.
We have sided with God’s enemies and invited God’s anger upon us all.

— And so, we sing, Lord Have Mercy —

Oh, Sovereign Lord, we mourn the state of the Church.
No wonder the Church is falling apart.
No wonder our churches are in ruins.
No wonder the world says the Church doesn’t look much like Jesus -
   Because we don’t.
   We haven’t looked like Jesus for a long time.
Sometimes we even despair of the possibility of meaningful change.
    We are in ashes and ruins.
Today, we claim the shame and dishonor that belongs to the American Church.
    In many ways, we have destroyed ourselves.
    Our members and friends and neighbors and enemies have deserted us,
    And maybe they weren’t always wrong to leave us.    
Today, we admit our desperation and our guilt.
    We have strayed from you and your mission, and we are suffering the consequences.

— And so, we sing, Lord Have Mercy —

But today, we also claim your promises of hope and healing.
You have promised a crown of beauty in exchange for our ashes,
    a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
You have planted us to bring you glory, and
    You have promised to make us into mighty oaks,
    strong trees with deep roots that give shade and last for generations,
    places for kids to play and for families to build houses.
You have promised that we will rebuild ancient ruins,
    repairing cities destroyed long ago,
    reviving communities abandoned for generations.
You have promised a double share of honor instead of shame,
     abundance instead of poverty,
     justice instead of corruption,
     peace instead of suffering.
You have made an eternal covenant with us,
     you have signed the deal with the blood of the Messiah
     you have watered the seeds you have planted in us with the Spirit that created the Universe.
O Sovereign Lord, today, we claim your promises of healing for your Church.

— And so, we sing, Lord Have Mercy —

Today, Lord, we reclaim your Spirit and your mission.
Just as you sent Jesus, so you send us now.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon us,
     for the Lord has anointed us
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent us to comfort the brokenhearted
     and to proclaim that captives will be released
     and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent us to tell those who mourn
     that the time of the Lord’s grace has come.

And so, we are overwhelmed with joy in the Lord our God!
    You have replaced our rags with the clothing of salvation.
    You have dressed us in robes of righteousness.
    With your Spirit we are as happy as a bride and groom on their wedding day.
We know that you will fulfill your promise to show your goodness to the nations.
    One day, everyone everywhere will praise you.
    So we’re starting the party now!
    We are living your goodness and glory now
          as a foretaste, a prequel, a living movie-trailer
          of the goodness of heaven and glory that your are cultivating in our world.
Your holy goodness is springing up all around us
    Give us eyes to see.
 Your beautiful glory is budding like crocuses in spring.
    Give us hands to help.

Come, Lord Jesus, and redeem your Church.
     You have begun the healing already.
     We join with you, sharing in your hope and glory.