Archive for the ‘confession’ Tag

No longer silent   Leave a comment

These are times when we must not keep silent! I am publishing this lament,  which I shared during our Sunday service this week because I believe these are issues on which we must persevere relentlessly until we see change. (If you prefer to see/ listen here is a link to this part of our Sunday service)

I feel greatly privileged to be the pastor of such a gloriously diverse church. However in recent days I have been challenged. Many of my closest friends are ethnically different from me and because I do life with them on a regular basis I have found it easy to overlook the fact that often they and their families experience life in a different way than I do. That although the news reports of lost lives that we have had recently in Minnesota and Georgia and incidents like the one in a park New York bring deep sorrow to me, they touch their lives in a far deeper and personal way. Although there is no way as a white male I can fully enter into their pain I want to find a way to stand with them. 

As a pastor in a place that is populated primarily with people like me who experience white privilege through accident of birth I have a strong sense that we should take some action to stand for what we believe and  stand in unity with all our brothers and sisters. Please resist any attempt to politicize what I am saying or respond in any way that does anything other than unify us in these difficult times.

Recently I have been learning about lament and so this morning I am going to lead us as  a church in a prayer of lament. We we see laments in many of the psalms and in other parts of scripture. We begin by turning towards God in our pain and not away and we cry our complaint to him. We follow that by begging Him to fulfill the promises He has made and finish by expressing our trust in Him as our only refuge and strength. 

Heavenly Father, we come to you in deep sorrow over recent events that cause some of our brothers and sisters to live in fear. events that seem to repeat themselves with such regularity that there is little time for recovery. Events that cause many of our friends deep grief, fear and sometimes isolation. It has been so easy for us to say this is not us. But it is us this is our country,  these are our communities and our people. We stand with the prophet Isaiah and confess “ we are a people of unclean lips. ( Is 6:5) Like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane our souls are overwhelmed with pain. 

All of this comes when we are experiencing unprecedented chaos all over our world thousands are grieving the loss of loved ones and many more remain sick. All around us are those with passionate and diverse opinions about the way forward. Often they express these perspectives in ways that have an increasing tendency to divide rather than unite. Our minds are flooded with questions as to  why these things happen? How could you allow it ? Where are you, and have you forgotten us?

We plead with you Heavenly Father to forgive us for times when we have not spoken or acted when we should, and for those times we have said or done things we should not have.  Forgive us for the times we have not “learned to do good, we have not sought justice or helped the oppressed when we have failed to defend the cause of the orphans or to fight for the rights of widows.”( Is 1:17) Bring the judgement you promise. Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24)  Bring the healing and comfort you promise to those in deep sorrow and restore the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25). Fulfill your promises to redeem and restore our devastated and broken world that we may experience the peace that passes all understanding you promised and the perfect unity you prescribed. As the Psalmist says “ send [us] a sign of your favor, then those who hate [us]] will be put to shame, for you O Lord help and comfort [us}.(Psalm 86:7)

Heavenly Father we know that despite what we see and feel You are our refuge a strength a very present help in trouble. We know you are King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   We know that even what the enemy plans for evil you turn it for our good and we long for your return in glory when you will wipe away every tear and until that day we ask that you will give us strength and courage to be your hands and feet to each other and the world around us. Show us how to stand for truth and justice while remembering that vengeance is yours and yours alone. We ask all this in the powerful and mighty name of our risen Lord Jesus 


I have a confession to make!   Leave a comment

When I recently preached on Psalm 32 I was really struck by the significance of confession in the life of a Christian. For many, the word is significantly misunderstood and simply carries the implication of focussing on what we have done wrong and ‘fessing up! The images from the Catholic faith of wooden closets with little windows through which you recount your deepest dark secrets are not I suggest very helpful.

So what does the word mean? Well, at its simplest, it means to acknowledge or confront and can be used in both positive and negative contexts. In his epistle, John urges us to confess our sin but Paul in Romans similarly encourages us to confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9)*. James, however, suggests that we confess our sin to one another (James 5:16). Given all these different uses of the word in scripture I believe it warrants us looking more carefully at what this should mean for us.

Each of the uses above suggests a different response. The acknowledgment [confession] of having done something wrong, according to David, results in not the burden of shame and guilt but the freedom of forgiveness (Ps 32:5). The confession of Jesus as Lord brings salvation (Rom 10:9) and James tells us that confession of sin to one another results in the prayer support (James 5:16)

In his book “Breathing Under Water” Richard Rohr looks at the parallels between the gospel and the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. When he comes to Step 5, Admit to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs” makes some really powerful observations:

” Any good therapist will tell you, you cannot heal what you do not acknowledge, and what you do not acknowledge will remain in control of you from within, festering and destroying you and those around you”

“When human beings” admit” to one another” the exact nature of their wrongs” we invariably have a human and humanizing encounter that deeply enriches both sides”

So it seems that a fresh and broader look at the concept of confession as “confrontation” or “acknowledgment” can bring us rather and discouragement and depression a wonderful sense of release and freedom. Those who attend liturgical churches are often taken through the routine of confession during each service. Perhaps those of us not familiar with such practices might benefit from thinking about somehow adopting not simply the practice of confession but consider what might be called a confessional lifestyle and then bask in the blessing of Ps 32:2 the joy of lives “lived in complete honesty”

*The KJV actually uses the word “confess”, other versions use “openly declare”

Posted January 14, 2020 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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