Confessing our sins is a spiritual practice we do when we gather together for worship. But how can we confess our sins when we are not in church? During our daily ritual of prayer and time with God, what words can we use to confess and ask for forgiveness? You might have the confession we use on Sunday mornings memorized. Those words might be the ones you need to name the sins you know but the sins you do not realize participated in. But I also know that memorizing long lines of text is not a gift all of us have. I struggle with memorizing anything longer than one sentence. But I know all of us can memorize at least one phrase to use in our daily life. I invite you to find a phrase in scripture to help you confess your sins. And if you don’t have one, take the first half of the first verse from Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love.”
That half verse is powerful. The first four words ask God for mercy. That request isn’t only a general statement. When we ask God for mercy, we are invited to wonder why we need that mercy in the first place. We are invited to reflect on our lives and the ways we stumble as followers of Jesus. We are asked to name the ways we have failed to love God and our neighbors. We look back into our past and ask deep, meaningful, and difficult questions. And then we turn to God and ask for mercy and love.
Our God is a God who loves and forgives. Through the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, we are reconciled with the creator and sustainer of the cosmos. By confessing our sins and naming the ways we fail to follow Jesus, we reorient ourselves towards God. This reorientation helps us see where Jesus is in our life and in our world. Our daily spiritual life needs prayer and confession. And it’s through these kinds of spiritual practices that we see God’s love for us and the world more clearly.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for Ash Wednesday, 2/14/2018.