by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins
through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in
eternal life. Amen.
A form of release.
A way to acknowledge sin.
A hopeful step forward.
God’s mercy and grace for us.
In the Lutheran tradition in which I am a part, confession is generally offered every Sunday. Every week you hear the familiar words offered in the rite of confession. Every week you get the chance to release yourself from whatever weighs you down.
When we come to confession we gather in community. We gather with others who need to be forgiven.
When I go to worship and the service begins with confession, I know I’m not alone.
I see and hear others reciting the words.
I speak the confessional liturgy.
I reflect on all the places I’ve fallen short in the past week.
I lament the war, violence, and racism in our world and the ways my life contributes.
I offer my sadness for all the ways I’ve not cared for my neighbors.
I regret the missed opportunities.
I lift up the people who I’ve hurt.
It all comes to me in just a few minutes of silent contemplation and in the words of confession.
Yet, it’s enough. A release.
Because after those moments I hear God’s response – forgiveness.
A deep inhale of God’s mercy and grace.
I recently came across the following quote in Sarah Domet’s book, The Guinevere’s:
“When I feel things I confess them – and, like that, the weight lifts away from me. That’s the beautiful power of absolution. It’s not so much about the ritual as it is about the need to unburden our stories onto someone who will carry the weight for us.”
This is the gift of Christian community – bearing one another’s sins and offering forgiveness. I give thanks for those who have offered to hear my mistakes and failures, and yet, continue to love me unconditionally.
Most importantly, I give thanks to God. A God who is always present to listen; a God who already knows what’s on our hearts; a God who always comes to us with a posture of love and forgiveness.
Isn’t that what we all need?
A place and a people to be truly ourselves?
A place and a people who will walk with us?
A God who always wants to be in relationship with us?
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of a toddler, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. Her website is http://www.kimberlyknowlezeller.com