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Restorative Justice Weekday Worship

This was designed as a short, reflective service that encourages time for prayer for issues related to restorative justice. This service specifically prays for prisoners, but it also acknowledges that all people need to seek forgiveness and work for reconciliation.

This was designed as a short, reflective service that encourages time for prayer for issues related to restorative justice. This service specifically prays for prisoners, but it also acknowledges that all people need to seek forgiveness and work for reconciliation. Feel free to adapt this service for specific contexts, particularly consider adding silence throughout the prayers, if time allows.

Call to Worship:
The Lord reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
He will judge the world in righteousness;
he will govern the peoples with justice.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion;
proclaim among the nations what he has done. (Psalm 9:7-11, NIV)

Opening Song: "Amid the Thronging Worshipers," Psalter Hymnal 239

Prayer of Adoration:
Almighty God, we praise you for your mercy and compassion. You love each person regardless of economic status or social standings. You show your mercy to each sinner, whether corporate executive, housewife, child, or prisoner. Open us to your wisdom and mercy as we meditate on your word and work to serve you in our world. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:31-46

Time of Silent Reflection

Call to Confession:
God calls us to care for those in need:
the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the prisoner.  
He, who is compassionate and gracious,
calls us to share his compassion.  
Trusting in God's great faithfulness and compassion,
let us confess our sins before God and one another.

Prayer of Confession:
“Perdón, Señor/ Forgive Us, Lord” SNC 59

Across the barriers that divide race from race:
Reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide rich from poor:
Reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide people of different cultures:
Reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide Christians:
Reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide men and women, young and old:
Reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Confront us, O Christ, with the hidden prejudices and fears
that deny and betray our prayers.
Enable us to see the causes of strife,
Remove from us all senses of superiority.
Teach us to grow in unity with all God's children. Amen.
(TWS S.2.2.2)

Assurance of Pardon:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. (Psalm 103:8-13, NIV)

Call to Grateful Living:
This is what God the Lord says—
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
"I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness." (Isaiah 42:5-7, NIV)

Song of Response: "Healer of Our Every Ill," SNC 205 stanzas 3-4, refrain

Intercessory Prayer with sung refrain (SNC 205)

Loving Lord, you are merciful and compassionate.  We thank and praise you for your grace to us, and we pray for help to show your grace to those around us. Our world is full of pain and sorrow and needs your healing.

Sung refrain.

God of grace, we pray for those who are in jail. Give wisdom to those who struggle to know the difference between right and wrong. Encourage those who have given up hope. Ease the pain of those who are suffering injustice. May those who are imprisoned experience justice and mercy.

Sung refrain.

Lord, we pray for the families of prisoners: for the children who miss their parents, for the husband or wife who raises the children alone, for parents who feel guilty, for those filled with fear or loneliness. Comfort the families of prisoners. Give them hope and peace as they live with their loved ones behind bars.

Sung refrain.

Great Healer, we bring before you the victims of crime and violence. Give them physical and mental healing. Ease their anger or guilt. Help them return to a normal life. May they trust in your security. Merciful God, we also pray for the families of victims. It is hard to see those we love suffering. Give strength and peace to these families. Comfort the grieving, assure the afraid, and sooth the angry.

Sung refrain.

Holy God, along with being loving and compassionate, you are wise and just. Give your compassion to all those who work with prisoners. May the judges, lawyers, lawmakers, and all those who work in the prison system recognize the importance of each prisoner. Give patience and strength to the social workers, counselors, and prison chaplains as they interact with the prisoners and their families. Help these people help the prisoners. But we also pray for your justice and wisdom. May these same people who show your compassion also have a sense of justice so that they make good choices in forming and implementing laws as well as in developing programs to educate and rehabilitate the prisoners.

Sung refrain.

Merciful Lord, we pray for our communities, neighbors, and church. Thank you for providing people in our communities to keep us safe. Help us encourage them and work with them. We pray for those who feel unsafe and for those who struggle with broken relationships as a result of crime. Enable us to help those who need to learn to trust again. Help us also know how to welcome paroled prisoners back into our community and show your love and forgiveness to them.  

We realize that even if it hasn't resulted in an arrest or jail time, each one of us has offended in some way. Help us seek forgiveness from those we have offended both individually and corporately as a church. Give those who need to forgive the grace to do so. Give us a passion and compassion for those who may feel excluded in our communities. Make us agents of renewal for justice, peace, and healing in all relationships. Inspire us to work for the elimination of prejudice and segregation in our daily lives. May our lives reflect the love and compassion for the world that you have modeled for us.

Sung refrain.

In the name of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we pray. Amen.

Call to Service:
Lead a life worthy of the calling
to which you have been called,
with all humility and gentleness,
with patience, bearing with one another in love,
making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace.  
There is one body and one Spirit,
just as were called to the one hope of our calling,
one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6, NRSV)

Song of Dedication: "Will You Come and Follow Me," SNC 267

Closing Prayer:
Loving God,
we have heard your call to live as one body.  
We thank you for your Son, the head of the body.  
We praise you for your Spirit, who works to make us one.  
Now as we leave to worship you
in our work, fellowship, and leisure,
we pray for the grace to live together in harmony.  
We pray for imagination to find ways
to strengthen our unity in Christ.  
We also pray for courage
to carry out these commitments
in a spirit of joy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
(TWS S.9.1.5)

Closing Song: "Song of Hope," SNC 282 v.1

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit
be with all of you. (2 Corinthians 13:13, NRSV)

Key: TWS, The Worship Sourcebook
SNC, Sing! A New Creation