Lord, we have come to see that our lives fall far short of your glory.
Have mercy and forgive us.
Lord, you have given your life for us, and poured out your Spirit,
yet we fail to return your love with all our heart.
Have mercy and change us.
Too often we are selfish and proud,
ignoring you, Lord, and neglecting others.
Have mercy and cleanse us.
Lord, when we do not truly trust and obey you,
we are overwhelmed by self-pity, fear and worry.
Have mercy and deliver us.
In Christ we are given a sure hope and secure love,
yet we follow the false hopes and desires of this world.
Have mercy and forgive us.
Father, through the redeeming death of your Son on the cross,
by your Spirit and through your word,
transform and renew us to follow you with joy.
All this we ask, confident in your unchanging faithfulness. Amen.
Taken from: http://www.sundayservices.anglican.asn.au/
At a conference a few years ago, a preacher scoffed at the Anglican confession. He commented that we spend too much time counting our failures and not enough time rejoicing in God’s goodness. He implored us to count that which we’ve done right more than that which we’ve done wrong.
There’s a part of me that agrees with him. There’s a part of me that wants to come to God remembering that in spite of my failures, I’ve succeeded too, but then reality hits me. At church last night someone was baptised and she told us with tear filled eyes that Isaiah 1:18 was the verse that struck her and caused her to see God for who he is. It says,
“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
Our faith rests upon the confession of our sins. Our faith rests upon confessing these sins to the Faithful One. Our faith depends on his goodness, and our identity as the redeemed people of God doesn’t come from our own successes. It comes from Jesus’ goodness. And oh, He is good.
This last week I’ve found myself wrestling. My task was to write an essay about Dutch reformer Herman Bavinck’s view of sin, and the way he wrote made it feel like I was wading through thick mud to get anywhere, only to find myself tumbling down a hill and beginning the trek uphill again and again. My mind was full of persistent clouds and thoughts came slowly. All week, I was keenly aware of my brokenness and sinful heart as I wrote this essay about sin.
Coming to church on Sunday, I knew that I’d be uttering the words of a confession and God met me there. God met me in those words when I asked him to forgive, change, cleanse and deliver me. He met me in those who sat by me uttering those same words. That’s the beauty of confession. It’s that God’s goodness has overwhelmed our sinfulness in Jesus. It’s that when we feel most alone in our sin and our sorrow, we can come together as a body and speak the same words together, and in that moment know that God has forgiven us, and that we all stand in the same place.
The beauty of confession is that in it we are never alone, and that in the same breath as we confess, we can know that we are forgiven.