The Church: Passionate for Justice and Compassion

Sixth worship service in a collection of building blocks for a series of worship services based on key themes from the Belhar Confession


Love One Another by Laura James (www.laurajamesart.com)

Belhar Confession Worship Service #6

The nature of God, reconciliation in Christ, and new obedience in Christ all give the church its calling and mission: to bring  justice and compassion to all people in this world.

Belhar References: (excerpts from section 4)

We believe…that God revealed himself as the one who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people; that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged; that God calls the church to follow him in this, for God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry;
that God frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind; that God supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans and widows and blocks the path of the ungodly; that for God pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering; that God wishes to teach the church to do what is good and to seek the right (Deut.32:4; Luke 2:14; John 14:27; Eph.2:14; Isa.1:16-17; James 1:27; James 5:1-6; Luke 1:46-55; Luke 6:20-26; Luke 7:22; Luke 16:19-31; Psalm 146; Luke 4:16-19; Rom.6:13-18; Amos 5); that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need, which implies, among other things, that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream; that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others.

Suggested Scriptures

Psalm 15
Psalm 146

Amos 5

Isaiah 1:10-17

Isaiah 58 and 59

Romans 12:3-21

James 1:27

James 2:1-13

References in Other Confessional Documents

Heidelberg Catechism, LD 40, Q/A  105-107
                                      LD 42, Q/AA 110-111
Our Song of Hope
, V.10
Our World Belongs to God
, 6, 11, 15, 16, 17, 44, 45, 48, 52, 53
Westminster Larger Catechism
, Q/A, 135, 136, 141, 142
Westminster Shorter Catechism
, Q/A, 68, 69

Possible Songs

All those notated with an asterisk will be found in “Lift Up Your Hearts” (LUYH), to be published in 2013 by Faith Alive Christian Resources.

*For the Healing of the Nations, LUYH
*God of Grace and God of Glory, LUYH
     [paired with CWM RHONDDA]
*Let Justice Flow, LUYH
*Lord, Who May Dwell Within Your House, PFAS 15D
     [Psalm 15: paired with CRIMOND]
*Open Our Eyes, CSW 34
Our God’s true self is shown
, James Hart Brumm
     [paired with CANTEMOS AL SENOR, text permission at Permissions@BrummhartPublishing.com]
*Praise the Lord! Sing Hallelujah!, LUYH
     [Psalm 148]
When a Prophet Sings of Justice
, SNC 264
     [paired with GENEVAN 42]

Liturgy Resources

Prayers

Almighty and loving God,
The highest heaven and the depths of the oceans convey the wonders of your splendor and majesty.
Open our eyes to see your glory also revealed in the places of despair and brokenness, and in times of grief and fear.
Truly our hope is in you.

John D. Witvliet, 2011, © Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike


Gracious God,
we pray for the faithful all over the world,
that all who love you may be united in your service.
We pray for the church . . .
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for the peoples and leaders of the nations,
that they may be reconciled one to another
in pursuit of your justice and peace.
We pray for the world . . .
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for all who suffer from prejudice, greed, or violence,
that the heart of humanity may warm with your tenderness.
We pray especially for all prisoners of politics or religion
and for all refugees.
We pray for all who are oppressed . . .
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer
.

We pray for all in need
because of famine, flood, or earthquake,
that they may know the hope of your faithfulness
through the help of others.
We pray especially for the people of . . .
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for the land, the sea, the sky—
for your whole creation, which longs for its redemption.
We pray that we may live with respect for your creation
and use your gifts with reverence.
We pray for the creation . . .
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We pray for all who suffer the pain of sickness,
loneliness, fear, or loss,
that those whose names are in our hearts,
in the hearts of others,
or known to you alone,
may receive strength and courage.
We pray for those in need . . .
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

God of compassion,
into your hands we commend all for whom we pray,
trusting in your mercy now and forever. Amen.
Louise Mangan in Worship for All Seasons, Volume 1, © United Church Publishing House, 1993, p. 43. Found in The Worship Sourcebook, © 2004 Faith Alive Christian Resources, 4.4.18


We pray to you, O Lord, our God and Father,
because we are encouraged by Jesus Christ,
your Son and our brother, to do so.
You have said through the mouth of the prophet:
“Seek the good of the city and pray for it to the Lord”;
we therefore pray to you today
for our cities and villages and for the whole land,
for justice and righteousness, for peace and good order everywhere.

Have mercy, Lord, we pray.
We pray for those who govern.
Teach them that you are the ruler of all
and that they are only your instruments.
Grant them wisdom for their difficult decisions,
a sharp eye for what is essential,
and courage to obey your commandment.

Have mercy, Lord, we pray.
We pray for all who, by your ordaining,
are responsible for justice and peace.
We pray for all who continue to seek salvation in violence.
Show terrorists that no blessing rests in violence.
Take the young among them especially into your care
and bring order into their confused thoughts.
Bring murder and kidnapping to an end.

Have mercy, Lord, we pray.
We pray for all who are no longer able to sleep in peace
because they fear for their own life
and for the lives of those near and dear to them;
we pray for all who no longer have hope in your kingdom
and for all who are tormented by anxiety or despair.
Grant that they may be blessed
with faithful friends and counselors alongside them
to comfort them with your strengthening gospel and sacrament.

Have mercy, Lord, we pray.
Lord, you have the whole wide world in your hands.
You are able to turn human hearts as seems best to you;
grant your grace therefore to the bonds of peace and love,
and in all lands join together whatever has been torn asunder. Amen.
From a prayer for use on Rogation Sunday, Evangelical Church of the River Plate, Argentina; from “Confessing Our Faith Around the World IV: South America”, 1985 World Council of Churches Publications, Geneva, p. 10. Found in The Worship Sourcebook, © 2004 Faith Alive Christian Resources, 4.5.7


We offer ourselves to you, O God, our Creator.
We offer our hands
.
Use healing touch to comfort sisters, brothers, and children who are afraid.
We offer our eyes and ears
.
May we see and hear the signs and stories of violence
so that all may have someone with them in their pain and confusion.
We offer our hearts and our tears
as their hurt and sorrow echo within us.

May we be healed as we embrace each other.
We offer our anger
.
Make it a passion for justice.
We offer all our skills.

Use our gifts to end violence.
We offer our faith, our hope, our love.

May our encounters with violence bring us closer to you and to each other.
All this we ask through Jesus Christ,
who knows the pain of violence. Amen.

Carrie Doehring in Glad Tidings (Dec. 1985). Used by permission of Women’s Missionary Society, Presbyterian Church in Canada. Found in The Worship Sourcebook, first edition © 2004 Faith Alive Christian Resources, 4.5.8

God of love, God of mercy, God of all power!
Why do you let your people die—
your people whom you have redeemed?
Why do you let the earth suffer—
the earth you have created in your sovereign power?
Lord, look and see the misery of the famine that is ravaging your people;
look and see these children, these women and men
who are dying of hunger and who cry to you in their need.
Give them, we pray, according to your grace
and according to their need, to the glory of your name. Amen.
From The Worship Sourcebook, first edition © 2004 Faith Alive Christian Resources, 4.5.28

Affirmations

We believe that God has revealed himself as the one who wishes to bring about
justice and true peace among people.
we believe that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special
way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged;

we believe that God calls the church to follow him in this;
for God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry;
we believe God frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind;

we believe that God supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans and widows and  blocks the path of the ungodly;
we believe that for God pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering;

we believe that God wishes to teach the church to do what is good and to seek what is right;
we believe that the church must therefore stand by people
in any form of suffering and need,
which implies, among other things,
that the church must witness against
and strive against any form of injustice,
so that justice may roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream;

we believe that the church as the possession of God
must stand where the Lord stands,
namely against injustice and with the wronged;
that in following Christ the church must witness
against all the powerful and privileged
who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others.

We believe in the triune God,
Father, Son, and  Holy Spirit,
who gathers, protects and cares for the church through Word and Spirit.
This, God has done since the beginning of the world
and will do to the end.  Amen.                   

Belhar Confession, Article 1 and 4

Glossary

Confessions and Testimonies:

(Note: When we use the term “Other Confessional Documents” we are using the term “confessional” broadly to include those which have been formally adopted as a Confession of Faith by a denomination, but also those which more loosely are considered a Testimony or Declaration of Faith by a denomination.)

Belhar – the Belhar Confession
BC – The Belgic Confession of Faith
HC – The Heidelberg Catechism
OWBTG – A Contemporary Testimony: Our World Belongs to God
OSOH – Our Song of Hope
WC – Westminster Confession
WCRC – The Worship Statement of the World Communion of Reformed Churches
WLC – Westminster Larger Catechism
WSC – Westminster Shorter Catechism

Hymnals/Resources:

ELW – Evangelical Lutheran Worship
CSW – Contemporary Songs for Worship
GSW – Global Songs for Worship
LUYH – Lift Up Your Hearts
PFAS – Psalms For All Seasons
PsH – The Psalter Hymnal
SNC – Sing! A New Creation
SNT – Singing the New Testament
TWS – The Worship Sourcebook

General Hymns:

*Abana in Heaven, GSW 44
*All Are Welcome, LUYH
     [paired with TWO OAKS]
*Be Thou My Vision, LUYH
     [paired with SLANE]
*Canto de esperanza/Song of Hope, LUYH
     [paired with ARGENTINA]
*Faith Begins By Letting Go, SNC 172
     [paired with LUX PRIMA]
*God of Grace and God of Glory, LUYH
     [paired with CEM RHONDDA]
Let Streams of Living Justice, ELW 710
     [paired with THAXTED]
Lord, You Call Us
     [JOYOUS LIGHT Morningstar MSM-50-7800 SATB and Congregation]
*Perdón, Señor/Forgive Us, Lord, LUYH 2.2.1
     [paired with CONFESSION]
*Psalm 51, SNC 50
The Church of Christ, in Every Age
, ELW 729
     [paired with WAREHAM]
*The Church’s One Foundation, PsH 502
     [paired with AURELIA]
Belhar Hymn, David Alexander 
     [sung to O WALY WALY, Unity, Reconciliation and Justice: Apppendix C, p.87]

Comments