“let us confess our sins to one another and before God…” –Presbyterian Call to Confession

认罪: This is just one of many characters sticky-noted to our bedroom wall, all Christian phrases and words, in preparation for our trip to Yunnan with Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship, which begins this Friday. And this character in particular (or ren[4]zui[4]), means to confess one’s sins. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about confession lately, perhaps because it has fallen so out of fashion in our modern spiritual lives. But in Lent part of our task is to focus on our sin, as we journey uneasily with Jesus, to the cross, the place where our sin meant his death, and through amazing grace, in spite of ourselves, new life.

The other day a foreign friend of mine asked me if Christians still confess our sins to a priest behind a wall as in the movies, and while I explained that even for the Catholics that tradition is a bit outdated, I expressed that we do still today, confess before God and to one another. Just last week, I felt compelled to write a long newsy letter to my best friend, mostly filled with failures I can hardly admit to another human being, but also dreams of wholeness, and it’s only now in pondering her encouraging, loving reply, that I recognize this discipline as modern confession.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has for decades insisted on making the Call to Confession and the Prayer of Confession (and the Assurance of Pardon) a central part of the worship liturgy. For it’s only through confession of our sins that we can ready our hearts to receive the good news. But it’s not easy. It’s not easy to own up to our shortcomings, perhaps especially to those whom we do not want to disappoint. But it’s essential. It’s what brings healing. It is right, and it is good. Who do you confess to? Who accompanies you on your journey to wholeness? I thank God for those who accept me in spite of who I am. And I thank God for sending Jesus to teach us how. Amen.


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