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Confessing Our Confession


About ten years ago at my ordination into the Ministry of Word and Sacrament I still vividly recall a conversation I had with one of my husband’s aunts.  She grew up Roman Catholic and was very much used to the practice of making confession (Sacrament of Reconciliation) with her priest before partaking of the Eucharist.  At the ordination service she heard the invitation to come to the table of grace, invited by Christ himself the host of the meal, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  She responded to that invitation and ate and drank the body and blood of new life and forgiveness.  Afterwards, when we had time to chat, she asked me about the process.  “I’m used to making confession before coming to communion.”  “You did,” I said. Then I proceeded to explain to her about corporate confession and forgiveness.  As a community of faith we confess our sins together, known and unknown, and then receive absolution in the name of Christ our Savior.  (We do practice private confession and forgiveness when desired but each time we gather to worship we confess our sins to God in this corporate fashion.)

That practice is the verb, confession.  There is also a noun, confession.  The two are intricately tied to one another. . . often it seems that they shift back and forth between verb and noun.

As Lutherans we are a people who make public confession of our faith (verb) using ancient, yet living statements of our collective beliefs (The Confessions).  This all began back in the first centuries of Christianity with the hammering out of orthodox belief in the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creedal Statements.  Each Sunday in worship we confess our faith using one of these statements of belief (pick one, they are all good!).

We are confessing our confession.

But that’s not all. As Lutherans we also confess our confession using texts from the Protestant Reformation such as the Confessio Augustana (Augsburg Confession) written by Philip Melanchthon as a summary of the Evangelical’s faith witness- the 16th Century Reformer’s common beliefs with the Roman Church and their disagreements were contained in this history changing document.  Lutherans continue to adhere to it today, some 500 years later.  We confess our confession.  Then there was the second generation of Lutherans who were trying to do what the writers of the first Creeds did in their time. . . hammer out orthodox Lutheran teaching this time.

In the 21st Century we, as Lutherans who are first and foremost Christians, continue to confess our confession.  This is not simply a matter of reciting the document word for word in a public place (that would be quite a task to do in fact), rather living out the core meanings of the document in ways that proclaim God’s life giving, life saving Word to a hurting and broken world.  This is a collective effort accomplished by the joint efforts of each and every disciple acting out  (confessing) faith in their particular contexts (family/work/neighborhood/community/local hangouts).  By confessing our confession we define ourselves clearly as followers of Christ who seek to do his will; ones who love others in ways that can be a risk, are often difficult and trying, but that make a radical difference.  (Christ taught us to do this by modeling it for us!  His own confession sounded like, “There is no greater love than one who lays down his life for his friend.”)  When we confess our confession we are showing our neighbors and the world our ethics, core values,  our very witness to the faith we orally confess in worship: that God is creator, one who made everything out of nothing; that Christ is the Savior of the world and the LORD over our lives- bar none!; and that the Holy Spirit is the power of God in the present time sent to call us to faith, change lives, fill us with joy and strength, forgive sins and equip us to do God’s holy work.

So I ask you to consider carefully and thoughtfully this question for today:  WHAT DO YOU CONFESS?  (I’m not concerned here about your brokenness and sin- we all have that in abundance!  You are forgiven, by the way!!  I’m talking about your PUBLIC declaration of your faith in word and action. . . how do you live it out?  How do you show others?  How do you put your particular gifts to work in order to confess your confession?)

Blessings on your journey, this day and always!


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