Our violent world, Confession, Advent 2 — Allison Goerke, USA


Holy Family Fleeing by Kelly Latimore

In the second week of Advent, churches traditionally light the Candle of Peace.  This prayer of confession might be used in worship on Sunday with this explanation:

Several denominations are ‘calling on congregations NOT to light their second Advent candle — in solidarity with all those who are suffering in the war between Israel and Hamas, which is having a devastating effect on innocent lives. This follows a call from partner church leaders in The Holy Land. Many lights will not or cannot be lit in Bethlehem this Christmas. This action serves as a small but powerful reminder of this fact. It acts as a prayer for a genuine peace as opposed to the absence of conflict.’*

God’s beloved, to fully realize peace we must first acknowledge and grieve violence in our lives: violence that has been done to us, violence that we have done to others, and violence that has been done in our name or with our tax money, violence done in God’s name. Let us join together confessing to the God of justice some of those violences and committing to carry liberation and peace to our world:

Pray with me.  Yahweh Shalom**, we confess that it is tempting to rationalize and diminish the true harm done by this culture of violence, saying:
It’s always been this way; they have a right to retaliate; it’s the price of safety and security; this is just how it is.
And yet, the reality of violence surrounds us, and our hearts are broken:
Genocide in Palestine, Congo, Tigray and Sudan. Colonization, apartheid and imperialism.
Rising anti-Semitism and Islamophobia [in our nation and] around the world.
The shootings in Austin, at the University of Nevada campus, and throughout the United States [our country].
Physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse in our families, communities and wider world.
Dehumanization of people without houses.
Hate crimes towards our LGBTQIA+ siblings, our Black siblings, our Indigenous siblings, our siblings of colour.
Human-caused eco-disasters. 
White supremacy and Christian nationalism.
Forced food insecurity and educational inequity. 

God who weeps with us, we confess that rushing to declare peace without first confronting and committing ourselves to an end of violence makes us complacent and complicit in the destruction of peace.
We become agents of violence rather than messengers of peace. 
To have peace without justice and liberation is to settle for that inauthentic, counterfeit, substitute for peace known as the status quo.
We the people of Advent proclaim: it does not have to be this way.
We come together in one voice to denounce the named and unnamed violence within ourselves, our families, our church, our community, and our world.
God of liberation and peace, give us the fortitude and integrity to carry the restorative spirit of this second week of advent with us.

Adapted, as the original prayer has been written for a US audience.

Allison Goerke describes herself as ‘disabled, GenZ, EMT’.  She worships at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Loveland, Colorado USA, an Open and Affirming Congregation.
Excerpt from First Congregational Church Welcome Statement:  We believe God calls us to create a sacred, safe, inclusive space where all are loved as Christ loved them. The Holy Spirit moves among us to create a sense of belonging to a sacred community, and to encourage love and acceptance of one another. Whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here! 

*Wording from the United Reformed Church in Great Britain

**Yahweh Shalom – Judges 6:24

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