Restoring What Is Broken: A Worship Service

Call to Worship

2What do you mean by repeating this proverb,

“The parents have eaten sour grapes,

and the children’s teeth are set on edge?”

3As I live, says the Lord God,

you shall use this proverb no more.

4Know that all lives are mine.

Those who do what is lawful and right,

those who do not oppress others,

those who restore what is rightful,

those who share their bread and clothe the naked,

those who do justice, who follow my statutes, who act faithfully–

these are the righteous.

They shall surely live.


Adapted from Ezekiel 18:1-9


 Opening Prayer

Attend to me, O my God,

   look upon my needs and hear me,

and remember I am your guest.

I am a pilgrim under your roof,

   as were my gypsy ancestors,

those wandering Exodus emigrants

   who were your specially chosen ones.

So, protect me I pray, O God,

   from all that threatens me this day.

O Holy Host, under whose roof I rest,

   wash my feet with your love,

anoint my body with scented oils

   and kiss me with your healing affection

to send me soaring like a love-crazed hawk.

Remember me, Divine Host, as your guest

   who sleeps in your tent,

who feasts at your bountiful table,

   delighted by your loving care.

As your pilgrim guest, my Lord and Host,

   one final favor do I humbly ask.

 (Mention here a final prayer request.)


–“Prayer of God’s Guest,” Edward Hays (based on Psalm 39:12) in Prayers for Zero Gravity (Forest of Peace Publishing)


Hymns for Singing (as desired throughout the service)

            HWB   6          Here in this place

                        76        Praise, I will praise you, Lord

                        110      Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing

                        145      There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

                        305      Where charity and love prevail

                        367      For the healing of the nations

                        493      I heard the voice of Jesus say

            STJ      16        Praise with joy the world’s Creator

                        39        Ubi caritas

                        68        O hear, my people

                        92        Just as I am, without one plea

            STS     53        Here to the house of God we come

                        65        Abre mis ojos

                        115      Beauty for brokenness


A Prayer of Confession

Voice 1

For exploiter and exploited;

for persecutor and persecuted;

for criminal and victim,

God of perfect love, we pray.

Kyrie eleison. (a sung version, HWB 144 or STS 47)


Voice 2

As we pray, remove the fear that makes us strident and vengeful

and take away the woolliness of thought

that makes us sentimental.

Christe eleison. (substitute “Christe” or “O Christ.”)


Voice 1

Give us clear eyes to see the world as it is

and ourselves and all the people as we are;

but give us hope to go on believing in what you intend us all to be.

Kyrie eleison.


Voice 2

We pray for children growing up

with no sense of beauty,

no feeling for what is good or bad,

no knowledge of you and your love in Christ.

Christe eleison.


Voice 1

We pray for men and women who have lost faith

and given up hope;

for governments and systems that crush people’s spirits;

and for governments and systems slow to act

in the cause of justice, freedom, and healing.

Kyrie eleison.


Voice 2

We pray for the whole church and the world,

giving thanks for your goodness,

for your love made known in Christ,

for your truth confirmed in his death and resurrection,

for your promises to us and to all people,

keeping hopes alive…

Christe eleison.


–Adapted from Algoa (Eastern Cape, South Africa) Regional Council of the United Congregational Church, 1985, in John de Gruchy, Cry Justice (Collins)


Voices 1 and 2 in unison

            Listen to God’s words of compassion:

            I taught you to walk and lifted you

            like an infant to my cheek.

            How can I give you up?

            I am the Holy One in your midst,

            and I will not come in wrath.


–from STJ 131, copyright Lois Siemens


Scripture and Sermon Options

There are many stories from the Bible of acts of restoration. Here are four, any one of which could become the Bible reading and sermon focus:

  • The story of Jonah, the final words of which are God’s words of reproof to the prophet, offering hope for restoration of both humans and animals.  

“You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow…11Should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

  • The story of Abigail and David (1 Samuel 25) in which Abigail, the wife of Nabal, intercedes on his behalf with a lavish banquet to ease an arising fury between her husband and King David.

“David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! 33Blessed be your good sense, and blessed be you, who have kept me today from blood-guilt and from avenging myself by my own hand!34’”

  • The familiar story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19) in which the reformed tax collector offers a generous restoration of that which had been taken unjustly from his subjects.

“Look, half of my possessions, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”

  • The story of Onesimus (Philemon), a runaway slave who Paul returned to Philemon in an act of restoration.

“15Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, 16no longer as a slave…”



A sung Alleluia (such as STS 24, 87, or STJ 41)

Victorious God, who breaks the powers… (STJ 154) 

A sung Alleluia

Suffering God, who bears the wounds… (STJ 155) 

A sung Alleluia

Go into the world doing what the Lord requires… (STJ 157)

A sung Alleluia


Conclude with a hymn of hope and thanksgiving, such as the Taizé song, “In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful” (Songs and Prayers from Taizé, songbook G-3719P, accompaniment book G-3719A, GIA).


Two additional resources:

Restorative Justice Week 2010 materials published by the Office of Social Justice of the Christian Reformed Church:

Biblical/Theological Works Contributing to Restorative Justice: A Bibliographic Essay. New Perspectives on Crime and Justice, Occasional Papers of the MCC Canada Victim Offender Ministries Program and the MCC U.S. Office of Criminal Justice. August 1989, Issue No. 8.

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