Healing into our freedom 3Litany for misuse and abuse of the scripture
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 ‘The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.[a] 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. 5 Everything they do is for show.
13 ‘What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.[e]
15 ‘What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell[f] you yourselves are!
23 ‘What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,[g] but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
27 ‘What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.'” Matthew 23:1-5a, 13, 15, 23, 27-28 New Living Translation (NLT)
One: Holy One, Author and Finisher of our Faith – You who existed before pen ever was put to paper to talk about you, we come before you tonight to make confession around our relationship to holy scripture, our use, misuse, and abuse of the written word. Hear our hearts and HEAL US INTO OUR FREEDOM.
ALL: Forgive us, oh God, for our fear of You borne out of our false understanding of your “word” and words found in the Bible. We recognize that we have too often fashioned our relationship with you, ourselves, and others based on an interpretation of scripture that casts you as a God of whom we must be afraid and your “Word” as a sword which we must wield to put the “fear of God” into others.
One: We confess that we have indeed “weaponized” our scriptures against our ancestors, denying the validity of their knowledge of and relationship to You that existed BEFORE the text was imposed upon them
ALL: Forgive us, oh God, and HEAL US INTO OUR FREEDOM!
One: We confess that we have diminished the authority of the only testament that Jesus knew and read – the Hebrew Testament – in order to make it subservient to that text which we call our New Testament. But in so doing, we have done harm to the One whose identity was formed by that Hebrew Testament and have often abused the faith ancestors whose community was formed by those scriptures.
ALL: Forgive us, oh God, and HEAL US INTO OUR FREEDOM! We confess also that too often we have sought to make the Bible what it was never intended to be: a book in which all knowledge – scientific, historical, philosophical, and cultural – is to be found. In so doing, we have not allowed our scripture to reflect its own identity in context.
One: Forgive us, oh God, for using our interpretations as justifications to magnify our own prejudices and hatred against those who believe differently from us whether that be other Christians, non-Christians, people of little or no faith paths, or people of different gender and gender expression, races, ages, abilities, orientations, political views, etc.
ALL: We confess that we have used the Bible as a tool to expand Empire and domination over indigenous peoples all over the world and within our borders. Forgive us and HEAL US INTO OUR FREEDOM!
One: We acknowledge that we have ignored the timeless principles that matter most deeply to God and emphasized the time and culturally-bound traditions that matter more to us than to God.
ALL: We confess that we have utilized the repetition of what we have been taught as a way to avoid serious engagement, study and wrestling with our scriptures to understand anew the words of God for our time and our communities. Forgive us and HEAL US INTO OUR FREEDOM!
One: And above all we have engaged in “bibliolatry” – exalting the written word far above the relationship and revelation granted to us through the Living Word, our Common Christ. We have chosen “death by the letter” over “life through the Spirit” of God’s Still-Speaking Word.
But in this moment we repent and ask you to “break open anew the Bread of Life” that emerges “beyond the sacred page.”
HEAL our relationship with the scripture and with you, ourselves and one another that we might “rightly divide the words of truth, speaking in new tongues” for the redemption and reconciliation of new generations throughout the whole world.
*Moment of Silence*
One: Beloved Siblings and Family in this room, Receive the Good News: In Christ and the Holy One, we are forgiven and healed.
ALL: Amen and Ache!
Created by Rev. Elizabeth Ann Jefferson for The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries 2015 Convocation
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