I am preparing the service for this coming Sunday, which is a big day liturgically. It is the beginning of Refugee Week and the closest Sunday to the 39th Anniversary of the Uniting Church in Australia. Sunday’s liturgy will mention both those things. But in the Prayer of Confession I wish to acknowledge the massacre that took place at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a gay nightclub that, according to its co-founder, sought to be ‘a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community’. This is the prayer, drawing on some of the language of Galatians 3:23-39, which is one of the lectionary readings for this coming Sunday.
If you would like to use this prayer, in whole or in part, please do.
you have created an astounding world,
a world of majestic natural beauty that overwhelms us,
a world populated by your rainbow people,
people of every gender and sexuality
and colour and culture and language
and age and ability.
In Jesus you came and lived among us
to show us what it means to love and be loved,
to be our peace,
to break down the walls that divide us from each other and from you.
Your Spirit guides us each day,
reassuring us that we are your beloved children,
helping us to care for your good creation,
leading us further on the journey towards the day
when your kingdom will come and your will be done.
Loving God, forgive us when we do not live as your beloved children.
We confess that while you break walls down we build them up.
We confess that even those of us who have been clothed with Christ
have been guilty of rejecting our sisters and brothers.
As we pray for all those affected by the massacre in Orlando,
– the dead and injured, their friends and families,
the emergency service workers who responded,
GLBTIQ people in the USA and around the world –
we acknowledge with sorrow and remorse
that the church has not been a safe place for GLBTIQ people.
As we lament the horror that hate can lead to,
we recognise that the language of faith has been used to justify that hatred,
and that biblical ‘texts of terror’ have been quoted to excuse murder.
We acknowledge the part Christianity has played and continues to play
in dehumanising GLBTIQ people.
We confess that even within the Uniting Church
there are places where GLBTIQ Christians are unwelcome,
where GLBTIQ ministers cannot serve,
where the relationships of same-sex couples are not celebrated.
Loving God, forgive us.
Help us to repent, turn away from evil, and turn towards you.
Remind us that every single person in the world,
whatever their gender or sexuality
or colour or culture or language
or age or ability
is your beloved child;
and that without every single one of us
your rainbow shines less bright.
Give us strength and courage to work together to overcome hatred and violence
and to show the love for each other that you show us.
Creator, Christ, Holy Spirit,
be with us,
with the people of Orlando,
with the victims of violence throughout the world,
with GLBTIQ people everywhere,
and with all those in any sort of need,
today and always,
Declaration of Forgiveness
You are the beloved children of God.
You are clothed with Christ.
You are one in Jesus.
Sisters and Brothers, your sins are forgiven;
Thanks be to God.