Often in our public confessions during worship, we leave a moment of silence so that we can name our specific confessions silently before God. Once when I led this prayer, my sister told me that I needed to leave more time for silence. “I wasn’t done yet. I got a loooooong list,” she told me.
If we’re being honest, we’ve all got looooong lists, even longer if we added those things we don’t know we’ve done or left undone. Public confession can be a reminder that we are all in the same boat. We are all in need of forgiveness and grace. I am just as much in need of God’s grace as my neighbor standing next to me. They are just as much in need of God’s grace as me. Public confession gives us an opportunity to acknowledge this together as a community.
Public confession can also become just words we say, but reflect very little on. Like any tradition, we can lose sight of its meaning as we stumble through the words and hope to get to the part of the service we like better. We can also have mixed feelings about it - is it intended to simply make us feel guilty or unworthy? Or is something more meaningful or powerful at work when we say these words together?
There is another form of confession as well. We don’t always talk so openly about individual confession, but it is also available to us. Sometimes we need another person to hear our confession. I have experienced, both as the one confessing and the one hearing confession, the importance of naming out loud to another person what is heavy on our hearts. As your pastor, I am also here to hold that space for you – not only in the community of worship, but in the holiness of listening.
We are entering the season of Lent. Lent is often a time where we focus on the importance of repentance and reorientation in our lives. One way we do this is through confession. And in doing so, we hear the words of forgiveness spoken over us. God forgives. There is life-giving forgiveness to be found, as we seek together, all of us in need, all of us received by God.
I hope you’ll join us this Lent as we gather together to confess, to pray, to sing and to seek. Seek and you will find God’s mercy. Again and again.