God of all mercy,
we confess that we have sinned against you,
opposing your will in our lives.
We have denied your goodness in each other,
in ourselves, and in the world you have created.
We repent of the evil that enslaves us,
the evil we have done,
and the evil done on our behalf.
Forgive, restore, and strengthen us
through our Savior Jesus Christ,
that we may abide in your love
and serve only your will. Amen.
Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through the grace of Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit .
Out of the most unlikely people in biblical history we discover the richest theology. The first century did not view the testimony of women as reliable. This is one reason the resurrection story is so fascinating, since the women were the first ones to witness the empty tomb. In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, Martha declares with great certainty that Jesus is not only the Lord of the living, but also of the dead. Martha is a type of the church. She demonstrates that our hope is not simply for this present world, but in a world that is fully resurrected by the Lord of life. Jesus is Lord over death and like Lazarus we too will be raised at the Last Day.
Gracious Father, You have raised your servant Lazarus from dead. You have overcome the tyranny of death. Teach us to see your resurrection power in our own lives as we live in light of your resurrection. For Christ’s sake, Amen!
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen
I am not quite sure of Ridderbos’ sacramental theology, yet in his commentary on John he remarks that the early church viewed John 9 as highly sacramental. He writes that the narrative of the blind man in the Pool of Siloam played an important role in the early church’s practice of baptism. To be clear, Ridderbos is a bit skeptical about its liturgical use, but affirms the role this account played in developing early church baptismal and liturgical practices.
In his chapter entitled The Joy of Being Sick, Hauerwas observes powerfully:
Before exploring how sickness manifests our sin I need to make clear why for most people the language of being sick seems more intelligible than being a sinner. I think the answer is very simple — we are atheists. Even if we say we believe in God, most of our lives are constituted by practices that assume that God does not exist. The most effective means I have discovered to illustrate this is to ask people how they want to die. We all want to die quickly, painlessly, in our sleep, and without being a burden. We do not want to be a burden because we can no longer trust our children. We want to die quickly, painlessly, and in our sleep because when we die we do not want to know we are dying.
It is quite interesting to contrast this with the past, when the death Christians feared was a sudden death. They feared a sudden death because such a death meant they might die unreconciled with their neighbors, their church, and, of course, God. We no longer fear the judgment of God, but we do fear death. So our lives are lived in an attempt to avoid death (or at least the knowledge that we are to die) as long as we can. As any doctor can tell you, sickness is the intimation of death — even hangnails. Accordingly we order our lives to be free of sickness. But so ordered, sickness becomes overdetermined as a description that indicates any aspect of our lives that threatens death. Growing old turns out, therefore, to be an illness.
I have been reading several parenting books in these last few months. Lately I have been working through Robbie Castleman’s delightfulParenting in the Pew (review to come). On a section dealing with how children belong, she quotes Stanley Hauerwas’s Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (p. 37), where he writes:
In many of our modern, sophisticated congregations, children are often viewed as distractions. We tolerate children only to the extent they promise to become “adults” like us. Adult members sometimes complain that they cannot pay attention to the sermon, they cannot listen to the beautiful music, when fidgety children are beside them in the pews. “Send them away,” many adults say. Create “Children’s Church” so these distracting children can be removed in order that we adults can pay attention…Interestingly, Jesus put a child in the center of his disciples, “in the midst of them,” in order to help them pay attention…The child was a last ditch-effort by God to help the disciples pay attention to the odd nature of God’s kingdom. Few acts of Jesus are more radical, countercultural, than his blessing of children.