This entry introduces a short series of occasional blogs that will appear during Advent. Over the centuries, Advent has been a time of expectant repentance—part of our preparation for Christ to come into our lives. Today we start at the beginning of that process—thinking about confession.
In my worship tradition, the liturgy begins with a signature invocation—“In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost”—and then moves immediately into a formal-yet-personal confession of sins. First things first….
A few Sundays ago, part of that liturgical formula for confession hit my ears in a particularly striking way: “We confess that we are captive to sin, and cannot free ourselves.”
What intrigued me: Confession is another way of describing the power of addiction mechanisms in my life. Not substance abuse, but the stubborn hold of any sinfulness that I cannot easily let go of, not easily avoid, not easily put aside. Because I’m addicted, I can’t redeem myself, can’t find freedom, can’t claim well-being.
Confession is the window into the way out. At its heart, confession is a deep-dive acknowledgement of the wrong thoughts and actions that plague my days. Confession can bottom me out, inviting me to set aside the illusions of self-delusion. Confession empties me emotionally—what’s left when I’ve stopped hiding my sins? And from that emptiness comes the kind of humility that requires a second admission: I could use some help here. Some understanding, certainly, but also some rescue or salvation because continued sinfulness doesn’t end well.
After confessing, it’s necessary for me to repent and to ask for forgiveness. Only then can I begin to amend that sinful life— always part of living forgiven.
It’s not easy to confess—that’s why we start our church services with this hard work. But confession is a Spirit-led action and attitude that opens the way for Christ’s love to enter my life again. When that window is opened, my Advent waiting can be a little more bearable, a little more productive and a little more hopeful.
Confession first, then repentance!