Confession (February Newsletter)

by jpserrano on February 4, 2016 · 0 comments

The basis for our teachings at Good Shepherd and all Lutheran Churches is: the scriptures of the Old and New Testament; the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds; and the Book of Concord (The Lutheran Confessional Writings). These works provide the anchor points for everything we do. They act as aides in helping us enter into the mystery of God’s presence and clarify the faithful teaching of the Lutheran Church.  If one wants to dig deeper into what Lutherans believe these are the reference works.


I write all of this because we Lutherans have specific beliefs that our written down.  Often we think that what we grew up with in belief and practice is THE Lutheran way never realizing that there is a wider birth of practice in the church.


When I first became Lutheran I assumed that private confession was a Roman Catholic thing and for a while I paid little attention to it. I had heard from many people that Lutherans only confess directly to God on Sunday morning, nothing else is needed.  But then, in conversations with colleagues I learned that some of them not only went to private confession, but received private confession as well. They even showed me the parts in scripture and the confessions where they got this practice…GASP!


Article XXV. of the Augsburg Confession (in the book of Concord) says, “Confession has not been abolished in our churches.” Giving instructions on how confession should be viewed Luther wrote in the Large Catechism,  “[Confession is] voluntary, that we may confess without coercion or fear; that we are released from the torture of enumerating all sin in detail; that we have the advantage of knowing how to use confession beneficially for the comforting and strengthening of our conscious.” So for Lutherans we do confession and it’s voluntary, brief, and for our comfort.  The main purpose of confessing to the pastor is to unburden yourself of the shame, guilt, and troubled conscious that comes with sin and hear the grace, love, and forgiveness of God.  When our sins are brought from darkness into the light of another living soul there is freedom.  Every lent I now go to confession myself.  It is incredibly freeing and unburdening.


But, we also have two other types of confession; to God alone and to our neighbor alone.  We are really good at the first one as a community.  We practice confessing to God every Sunday and hopefully you find yourself throughout the week throwing up confessions here and there.  Our communal practice is exactly that, practice for the rest of the week, that you may quickly identify your sins, confess, and repent.  What we do on Sunday is the group training for when your on your own.  Hopefully that training leads you to confess when you have hurt your neighbor and sinned against them in either word or deed, by what you have done or left undone.  At the heart of Christian community is confessing our sins when we wrong others and having them absolve us of our transgressions.


So continue to confess to God on Sunday and throughout the week.  Call the neighbor you have wronged and confess and ask for forgiveness. It has not been the practice of Good Shepherd in recent memory for the pastor to offer private confession. However, during this lenten season (and all year if you desire) I will make myself available for private confession.  Call me in the church office and I will be happy to make a time for us to meet.  I hope you take me up on it.  You will hear God’s grace and forgiveness while at the same time unloading the weight on your soul.

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