Lent – Emptying ourselves in order to be filled
Updated: Feb 12
Worship Resources for Lent
Here is a reflection activity that can be used during the first Sunday in Lent. It works particularly well as part of the Prayer of Confession.
You will need
A jug or bowl, scrunched up paper or rubbish, air-drying clay, something for people to clean their hands with, paper bags or zip-lock bags to take their creation home.
Set up a station for making small clay pinch pots or seat people around tables, café-style, from the outset of worship. Another alternative is to have one person make the pot up front while the rest of the congregation observes.
Arrange for someone to carry an empty jug or pot filled with scrunched up paper or rubbish down the aisle to the front. Hold it up to show that it is overflowing with rubbish.
Read out Macrina Wiederkehr’s Prayer of the Empty Water Jar. (I've included it at the very bottom of this post.) It's quite long so you may choose to only read select passages.
Follow up Macrina's prayer with this prayer of confession.
Prayer of Confession
We are filled to overflowing
with the things that do not matter.
In the silence,
we ask that you reveal to us
what is keeping us from you.
As part of an embodied prayer of confession, invite the congregation to contemplatively make a clay pinch pot out of a small lump of clay. As each person does so, they can choose to reflect on what they’ve filled up their life with that is not of God. As they make the pot, invite them to ask God to help them let go of anything that is keeping them from love – judgements, attitudes, habits, behaviours, activities that numb or distract etc.
Once the pots are complete, the worship leader calls everyone together and tips the scrunched-up paper out of the jug / pot and into a bin. They place the now empty jug / pot on the communion table and follow with the Assurance of Forgiveness.
Assurance of Forgiveness
Our God is a merciful God
who sees us as we truly are –
created in God's image.
As we hold our pots in our hands,
let us imagine ourselves filled and restored by God’s love.
In Christ, we are forgiven. Amen
The below prayer, or a portion thereof, can be read directly before the Prayer of Confession.
Prayer of the Empty Water Jar by Macrina Wiederkehr, Seasons of Your Heart
Jesus, I come into the warmth of your presence
knowing that you are
the very emptiness of God.
I come before you
holding the water jar of my life.
Your eyes meet mine
and I know what I'd rather not know.
I came to be filled
but I am already full.
I am too full
This is my sickness
I am full of things
that crowd out
your healing presence.
A holy knowing steals inside my heart
and I see a painful truth.
I don't need more
I need less
I am too full.
I am full of things that block out
your golden grace.
I am smothered by gods of my own creation
I am lost in the forest of my false self
I am full of my own opinions and narrow attitudes
full of fear, resentments, control
full of self-pity, and arrogance.
Slowly this terrible truth
pierces my heart
I am so full there is no room for you.
Contemplatively, and with compassion
you ask me to reach into my water jar.
One by one, Jesus, you enable me
to lift out the things
that are a hindrance to my wholeness.
I take each one to my heart and
I hear you asking me,
"Why is this so important to you?"
Like the murmur of a gentle stream
I hear you calling,
Let go, let go, let go!
I pray with each obstacle
tasting the bitterness and grief
it has caused me.
I sit with my empty jar
I hear you whisper,
You have become a space for God
Now there is hope
Now you are ready to be a channel of life.
You have given up your own agenda
There is nothing left by God.