On entering the service, people are given a small square of paper. Ask people not to write their name on the paper, but to think for a quiet moment about the burden of their own sins. They can write words or symbols on their paper or leave it blank. Tell them that during the prayer time, they will be invited to come forward and nail their paper to a large wooden cross placed on the floor of the sanctuary…hammers and little nails provided by the cross. When everyone who wants to do this has participated, the cross is raised up, so that it is visible to all. You can also do this more simply with sticky notes, which is less visceral, but more doable for a large congregation.)
Come unto me all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
We come to you, Jesus, burdened with our own sin.
Our own calls for revenge and violence,
which may or may not have included the words, “Crucify, crucify!”
Our own betrayals, with or without the thirty pieces of silver.
Our own denials, whether or not we have heard the cock crowing.
You know the sins we carry, secretly or openly,
the way they crush us, the weight of them.
We bring these to your cross…*
You carry our burdens, Lord.
These, the simplest and gravest of sins,
are magnified into organizations and systems,
amplified in the actions of corporations and governments.
Selfishness, revenge and violence unfold on the largest scale,
bringing forth misery and destruction in our world every day.
You carry all of our burdens.
Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6 NRSV)