During Sunday worship, it sometimes feels like The Confession is a list of sins that seems to apply mostly to younger folks. As though our mutually confessed sins take place mostly within contexts not applicable or easily available to older adults.
Yes, I’m aware that sinfulness extends into older adult lives, perhaps even distilling or concentrating into transgressions that are harder to confess or dislodge. And yes, there are universal wrongdoings and not-doings that apply to people at whatever age. It seems possible, though, that we who are of a certain age might benefit from some confessional expressions that get closer to our particular iniquities.
So, for example, because sinfulness extends past the sins of commission to the sins of omission—attitudes, thoughts and deeds we didn’t commit—is it possible that we older adults too easily use our imagined inadequacies as an excuse for inaction? Another example: Might one of our categories of sinfulness revolve around mistaking our stubbornness or self-righteousness for just another excusable element of growing older? Are we prone to blaming younger generations for the state of the world? Do we retreat into silence when the wisdom of our experience is sorely needed? Does our pride keep us from being honest about the secret sinfulness of our younger years? How we might avoid dealing with present circumstances and opportunities by living too much in our pasts? Or, perhaps most directly, have we just gotten tired of thinking of ourselves as sinful people? (Confession and repentance is hard work!)
I don’t know the answers to these questions—I’ve not been “old” inside my head for all that long. One thing for sure, though: I don’t ever want to think the Confession doesn’t apply all that much to me.
I am, after all, still a “poor, miserable sinner….”
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