Tent dwellers and castle builders
Confession from 'Clean' service
Most of us would prefer to live in a castle than a tent. Castles have stout walls that protect us from the contamination of the outside world. Within your walls you can bring order and control. In your castle you can admit nothing that may be bad. You can banish the unexpected and the unpleasant, and live a life that is secure and protected.
But in a tent, you aren't in control; you are open to the world. You can't shut it out; you have to learn to live with it. The green and vital grass outside becomes dirt when you bring it in on your feet. It's your choice whether you call it muck, or consider it a natural carpet. You learn to see that what you might call dirt, God has made to be exactly what it is. Whether we might use it for good or bad doesn't change its essential nature. It is what it is.
Help us to be tent-dwellers rather than castle builders, ready to see the hand of God in all creation.
Forgive us when we divide the world into things that are good or bad.
Remind us that good and bad can be found in our actions, not in objects.
Living in a castle, you can create exactly the impression you want to the outside world. People can't see inside; all they can see is the exterior that you want them to see; the carefully manicured flowers around the walls, the polished paintwork and the trim lawns. No matter if the inside isn't quite so clean and tidy; no-one sees it anyway. All that matters is the front you put up.
In a tent there's nowhere to hide, and no appearances to keep up. By day, you never know when a gust of wind will billow the tent flaps, giving passers-by a glimpse of your inner world. By night, your lamp casts shadows on the canvas wall. Your learn to live with your inner and outer worlds in sync.
Help us to be tent dwellers.
Forgive us when our righteousness is skin-deep.
Give us strength to dismantle the walls behind which we hide.
Give us courage, in community, to drop the front,
Come out from behind the mask of respectability,
And greet others with love and acceptance as they do the same.
Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent...