1. Audio visual confession
Music: Why does My Heart Feel So Sad? – images set to the song by Moby (7 minutes) from Blessed, an alternative worship community in Gosport. All the instructions are on the screen. Reflecting on some of the images from around the world, write your own confession on palm crosses, then bring them to the metal bucket at the front where, at a given point, the leader will set fire to them. The assurance of forgiveness is on the screen at the end.
2. Confession and absolution by text messaging
sms2email is one company you can use to set up the text confession. You create an account and buy a number of text messages with a keyword trigger and set up the response you’d like. The keyword in this case would be ‘confess’.
Text a confession on your mobile phone to the number given, prefacing it with the word ‘confess’ (an absolution with the words ‘you are forgiven’ is triggered by the keyword ‘confess’).
3. Meditation: Prayer of Examen
A lengthy ‘Ignatian Spirituality’ exercise from Grace, an alternative worship community in London. The Examen is a prayer practice, articulated and made popular by a man who came to be known as Ignatius of Loyola. It is a practice of double listening (to ourselves and to God) and is a tool for discerning the presence and absence of God in our lives. Could work well in a café setting or a small adult congregation.
4. Rocket confessional
Send your confession into space or watch it destroyed in a machine or eaten by a goat! You will need access to the internet, or pay to download the videos from the Proost website: Rocket Confessional, Machine Confessional and Goat Confessional. You will also need a computer or screen to display the video.
For more information, read Jonny Baker’s blog post.
5. Sackcloth bands
Sackcloth is used in many places in the Bible as a sign of repentance. This prayer activity uses strips of sackcloth or hessian, almost like a friendship band and as a prayer help.
You will need: strips of hessian (enough for one each) that are 2-3 cm wide and long enough to wrap around the average wrist, ballpoint pens, pre-prepared ashes (available from some Christian bookshops, or make your own from burnt wood), or alternatively use grains of coffee.
Give everyone a strip of hessian and a pen. Read Daniel 9.1-11, 17-19. Explain that Daniel is apologising on behalf of others. He is crying to God for forgiveness on behalf of the Jewish people, even though he himself has tried to follow God’s laws. Invite people to write prayers of repentance, or just name things that their community or country has done that they wish to apologise to God for. Invite God to forgive, heal and help. Then sprinkle the pre-prepared burnt ashes or grains of coffee on the strips of cloth. Tie the strips into bracelets and wear as a reminder to keep praying for those situations. If coffee grains have been used, the coffee smell will also remind you to pray for your community meeting at the coffee shop/café.
For more information and other creative ideas see Sue Wallace, Multi-Sensory Scripture, Scripture Union, 2005.