Confession and Blessed Forgiveness
Most holy and merciful God, we confess to you and to one another, and before the whole company of heaven, that we have sinned by our fault, by our own fault, by our own most grievous fault, in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.
-ELW Confession of Sin, p. 252
To the beloved of God at St. Peter,
Confession. If you only knew me, you couldn’t possibly love me.
Let’s face it. We make a mess of a lot of things. I don’t think it takes much to convince most people of that. One little moment of honesty. One moment of looking out into the world. One moment of looking into our selves. One little moment of honesty is enough to crush us beneath the weight of things done and things left undone. And so, we spend a considerable amount of energy covering those things up, hiding them, making sure no one knows. Because if they did know… During Lent, as we look to the cross, we spend a little more time ruminating on these things. And we do something so culturally strange. We stand up together and lay it all on the table as a community.
And it might be easy to get bogged down by this kind of reflection and confession. To be overwhelmed with guilt. We can even start playing games with rules that say something like: “the guiltier I feel, the better Christian I am being.” But, I’d like to suggest this Lenten season, that guilt is not the point. We do not confess, we do not bare our sins in order to feel guilty. We confess in order to hear and believe the word of forgiveness.
God does not need our confession. We do. If you only knew me… We need to be exposed for who we truly are – the beautiful and the ugly – in order to believe that who we truly are is truly loved. Not just the bright and shiny parts of us that we choose to let the world see. But the whole of us.
Confession reminds us of our deep and constant need of grace and drives us again and again to the promise of forgiveness. As we look to the cross this Lent, we see not only our sin, our guilt, but also the great love of God for us. The love that cannot be stopped by sin but which overcomes all sin. The love of God which is poured out in Christ Jesus for us.
Confession. In Christ Jesus, you are known. You are forgiven. You are loved.
I leave you with my Lenten prayer – for myself and for you:
Most merciful God,
You know us through and through.
And you love us as we are because we are yours.
Teach us to confess and forgive us.
That we might know and trust that your love is true.
Through the one who shows just how far God will go to love us,
Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Grace and peace to you,