Confession is a spiritual discipline that is corporate in nature because sin hurts both the heart of God and it leaves a wound in the fellowship of the believers. In the first years of the church’s history, forgiveness and reconciliation were a lengthy process that brought healing and restoration. However, in the MIddle Ages, confession became increasingly a private matter as it is mostly still today. However, Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew 18:15 - 20 expresses the communal nature of confession. He shares how forgiveness can be introduced into a community without destroying the body. Thankfully, it is God who does the forgiving -- but God often uses human beings as the channel for his grace.
Author Richard Foster points out in the Celebration of Discipline, “Human beings are such that ‘life together’ always involves them in hurting one another in some way. And forgiveness is essential in a community of hurt and hurtful persons. In experiencing forgiveness, it is important to understand what it is not.” Unfortunately, four things are often mistaken for forgiveness.
Ultimately, true confession and forgiveness bring joy to the Christian community and healing to the parties involved. Of course, the best part of confession is that it brings reconciliation with God, the Father. Sometime this week, spend at least fifteen minutes in silence before God and invite him to reveal anything within you that needs to be confessed.
Suggested Prayer of Confession
The following prayer of confession was offered by Pastor Arum in the STUMC worship service on Feb. 14, 2021:
Resurrected Lord Jesus, we thank you for the gift of confession, the gift of starting anew every day. We thank you for the freedom to be honest about our sins without fear, confident that you have triumphed over all sin, evil, and death. We confess to you today that we have fallen short of being the people you call us to be. We have hurt others by what we have done and by what we have failed to do. Forgive us, we pray. Help us to pattern our lives so that we become more connected to you every day, so that we live as you would have us live every day. We pray these things and confess our sins in gratitude for your promise of forgiveness and new life. Amen.
The Lay Leaders are grateful for all of the devotions that have been shared in this season of Lent. Thank you all! (submitted by Pat Brown)