Week 3 - CONFESSION
When you hear the word “confession” what comes to mind? A formal process of absolving guilt? A box to check in the pursuit of the holy? Perhaps the word triggers shame or is a displaced practice long forgotten. Confession follows repentance and is spurred on by the Holy Spirit to bring forgiveness, freedom and transformation. In his messages to the seven churches of Revelation, John describes repentance as a turning back to “do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5). He also says, if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Living in the light results in an awareness of sin, grief over separation and a desire for the presence of God.
When you hear the word “confession”, what emotions stir? Is
it a positive emotion or negative emotion?
How is confession and repentance the precursor to experiencing God’s sheer grace?
How could genuine repentance in our church impact our city?
How do we confess our sins and walk in the light?
knowledge of which by others is considered humiliating or prejudicial to the person confessing; a making known or acknowledging of one’s fault, wrong, crime, and weakness. It is also the acknowledging of sin or sinfulness and the confessing of sins. This seems like a definition that will work for us, except for the fact that in the 1st century no one had ever taken part in privately confessing one’s sins. Confessing our sins to one another (not private) seemed the way the church practiced confession in John’s community, and this remained consistent for about 600 years according to historian David M Knight. Confession in 1 John 1:9 is a commitment of what we know of God in light of what he has done through Jesus and the cross to create a new community. For the early Church, actions and words were both a testament to this in the presence of others. By confessing our sins, we are able to confess God as his light overcomes our brokenness and brings healing to our common life together. It is only when we begin to confess our sins and need for God that healing can really break in. Confession was a way to convince the community of our repentance and faith. Pastor and author Brennan Manning wrote, “in a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor becoming a light for others”
For more study on the practice of confession:
Might from the Margins: The Gospel’s Power to Turn the Tables
on Injustice by Dennis R. Edwards
Where sin is hated, admitted, and forgiven, there the break with the past is made. ‘Old things are passed away.’ But where there is a break with sin, there is conversion. Confession is conversion. ‘Behold, all things are become new.
Prayers for the Church
Read the following prayer in agreement with voices within our Missio Dei Chicago community;
Jesus, we come to you exposed in our shame, accused or accusing,
Waiting for you to condemn us or join in our condemnation of others
We are full of fear to have our secret sins brought into light before you.
But Lord in your grace, you remember how we are formed,
That we are fragile and broken, that we came from dust.
Help us to lift our downcast eyes and turn to see you.
Help us hear and believe that because of your great mercy, we are not condemned.
Because YOU do not accuse or condemn us, but instead love us,
Spirit, empower us to go and sin no more.
Kristen Stone, Missio Dei Wrigleyville
Prayers for the City
With the welfare of the city of Chicago in mind read the following passage:
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Then, pray for unity between pastors and churches in the city of Chicago. Pray that denominational, theological, and ethnic walls would come down so that Christians in the city would love each other, pray together, and serve each other.
After, pray the following aloud over this beautiful city in which God has placed us:
Like the blind man whom Jesus healed,
May Chicago become a sign
of your glory, calling you the Anointed One,
The one who also anoints us and points us to the Love of God.
Grants us your healing peace, Amen.
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.