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Liturgy: Confession/ "Absolution"


O God, we are negligent, we are weak, we are destructive: We are sorry and seek forgiveness to serve and bring about new life. In a world so full of wonder, ever changing, ever surprising us with new revelations of life»s power and beauty, let us instead look long and often with awe at the marvellous universe and all that moves and lives, to be its neighbour and serve with responsibility. Let us carry with us loving kindness, to be gentle as we wish the world were gentle, and through love, to be with and not against creation as it moves towards its fulfilment.

Based in part on the ASB confession and Powell Davies»s 'Prayer of Times and Seasons' in The Language of the Heart


O God, we have erred strayed, and wonder at our own perversity. We sit in shame and feel lost. We confess our faults, and seek to come from the dark to the light, so that we can live the rightness of ways as taught by Jesus or found by Buddha. There are many ways to truth but we seek the practical paths of active tenderness, lovingkindness and compassion. Grant that we may find these and live a godly life.

With forgiveness granted and forgiveness given, let us open our lips and show forth our praise for the possibility of righteous living, for such is our hope and aim now and evermore. Amen.


If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is beyond us. If we know and confess our sins, we can hope for unrighteousness.

Let us meditate and pray, using words based on Buddhist scriptures:
When we have been true to our vows, help will come in the form of a happy life.
When we have given gifts, help will come in the form of future wealth.
When we have performed acts of worship, help will come from the guardian angels.
When our solemn promises are made in good faith, help will come from the love of the fairies.
When we are alert at the sacrificial festivals, help will come from the Guardians of the way.
When in this life we learn to enter into higher meditation, help will come from the future Lord.
Learn therefore to gain these virtues, for help comes from them.

based on the 'Speech of the Raven', Buddhist Scriptures, p . 89


We know we have sinned against others in thought, word and deed, through negligence, through weakness and our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry, and we repent of all our sins. Let us forgive and be forgiven and serve one another again in newness of life. Let us remain true to our vows, give to one another, make solemn promises, be alert and be thus entered into higher worship and meditation. Amen.

Let us pray:

Let us confess the poverty of worship,
Our neglect of fellowship and all means of grace,
Our hesitating witness,
Our evasion of responsibilities
And our imperfect stewardship of our gifts.

We humbly confess our sins in conscience.
We confess with shame our slowness to learn
Our reluctance to bear the cross.

Let us each make our own confessions in silence.

Forgiveness is available from all of us for those who truly repent,
A pardon through mercy, with deliverance.
It confirms and strenghtens us in all goodness
And gives us life in full.


What sort of world do we live in
That sees hatred and fighting between peoples?
A world cruel, disastrous, dangerous and corrupt,
Shameful, stupid, inept and faithless,
Where greed, lust for money, theft, mistrust, war, attacks on privacy,
Wilful mismanagement, conflict and damage to nature:
A world in a downward spiral finding ever lower depths.

Humanity has befouled itself.

Does it have to be this way?
How can faith and hope and love arise?

Can there be an end to hatred, suspicion and greed;
Can there be an end to the downward spiral?

Trust and basic love are needed:
An end to self-centred minds where no one else matters,
And care for those we see and do not see;

Here's hoping that such a sentiment of hope is not a waste of talking time.


We share in the eternal warfare between good and evil but we are not permitted to be mere witnesses. Each one of us assists the growth of better things or delays the progress of the world. We are sure of our desire to be on the side of good, but we are not always sure of what is good. We are blinded by habit and association. We neither understand the quality of our own hearts nor the effect of our lives. Therefore are we banded together in this fellowship and are assembled at this hour.

May the serenely good life give its way us; may our minds be fortified, and the gates of wisdom be opened. May we work for true release from our sins. We can come to know ourselves delivered from everything in the past that would harm us or make us afraid, and travel the road of personal change. Neither gain, nor loss, nor change, nor decay, nor fightings without, nor fears within, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, not height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of our friends and the true value of our destiny.

So be it, from now to forever.

After Youlden, H., Manual of Ethical Devotion, 1914, p. 11-12.


As it concerns all people here:
Our conscience moves us in our better moments to acknowledge and confess our manifold mistakes and shortcomings; and that we should not dissemble nor cloak them before our own judgement but confess them in an humble, lowly, penitant and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain deliverance from the same. And although we ought at all times humbly to acknowledge our faults to those we have wronged, yet we ought to make confession when we assemble and meet together to render thanks for this life and the great benefits we have received from humankind, to set forth life's most worthy praise, to hear humanity»s highest word, and gain wisdom for the body and the soul.

Wherefore I pray and beseech you as many as can do sincerely, to accompany me with a pure heart and humble voice unto the throne of the moral law, saying after me:


Wherefore I pray and beseech you as many as can do sincerely, to accompany me with a pure heart and thoughtful mind unto the throne of the moral law, thinking with me as I say:

We have erred and strayed from the right path like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against the perfect life. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.

But we pray that we forgive ourselves and one another, that we develop patience and humility, and that favour is restored to all those who are penitent, according to this highest human need; and that trust is gained so that we may each hereafter live a loving, righteous and sober life, all this in the hope of humanity.

After Youlden, H., Manual of Ethical Devotion, 1914, p. 15-16.

We have been sinning against our godly ideals;
It has been our own fault and we have done this in thought, word and deed.
We should be sorry, and repent, and seek forgiveness from others so that we can be new again in the true glory of humanity.

Those who truly repent are forgiven;
There is mercy, pardon and deliverance and strengthening in goodness;
Such is the road to life eternal, and it is available to all.

Let us acknowledge our limitations, and hope for something better as signified by the chalice flame.

We live in a world that is broken: we are part of this broken world. We need to reach out, but we are often cynical. We need to find the light in the darkness, to make ourselves better, to make the world better and so find hope for a new tomorrow. The flame signifies that this indeed can be done.

Let us pledge ourselves anew to overcome cynicism, to do what we ought to have done and have not done, to provide a light of hope to the world. Amen.


Sin may be so close to us that we cannot see it,
And if it is not seen it cannot be loathed.

Until we stop the sin we never will see it truly as sin,
We have to wake first out of the dream to see it for what it is.

In doing is this knowledge won,
To see what yet remains undone,
With this our pride repress,
And give us grace, a growing store,
That day by day we may do more
And may esteem it less.

Last verse words by Tench, others based on Tench


Dear Brethren,
We are here met together for the worship of Almighty God our heavenly father. It is our duty with sincere and humble hearts, to praise and glorify his holy name; to give thanks for all his mercies; to hearken to his divine commandments; and to pray for such things as are needful to us and all men.

And in so drawing nigh to God, we must bear in mind our true condition before him, that we are not only his dependent creatures, but through folly, weakness and perversity, we have transgressed his holy will. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Let us therefore now, with lowly and contrite spirits, confess before him the manifold sins and infirmities of our lives.

Forms of Prayers for Use in Public Worship at Park Street Church (Unitarian), 1894.


Adapted from the Guru Granth Sahib 1

Any crime committed by a child
Is easily forgotten by the mother.
Lord, [we are your children],
Why then do You not obliterate our faults? (Pause)
If the child in utter anger runs away,
The mother does not take it to heart.
Our [minds have] fallen into the whirlpool of anxiety.
How can [they] swim across without love of the Holy Name?
Please give [us] perfect understanding for ever.
So that Kabir may sing Your virtues with poise.

Adapted from Mansukhani, G. S. (1994), Hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, New Delhi: Hemkunt Press, 23.


From the Guru Granth Sahib 36

I cannot measure Your grace.
You have made me worthy of You.
I am full of faults.
I have no virtue.
You have been Compassionate to me.
Merciful You have been and shown me Your grace.
Thus I was blessed with the True Guru.
Nanak says I can survive on the Holy Name only;
It rejuvenates my heart and soul.

Mansukhani, G. S. (1994), Hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, New Delhi: Hemkunt Press, 93.