Reflecting on Sin and Confession During Lent
One of the toughest things for contemporary Christians to do is to acknowledge their sin. The pervading culture does its best to devalue or even deny the existence of sin. The lesson that even though you are a “good person” you are still a sinner, is a difficult one to teach to young people in a confirmation class, or to someone of any age. But it is vital that we acknowledge our sins in order to open ourselves to God’s mercy. For if we approach God with a contrite heart, He indeed is merciful. I encourage you to read the first two chapters of John’s First Epistle for more context about this.
In Lent we bring a specific focus to our sinful condition and how it all fits into our relationship with the redeeming Lord. Part of that Lenten focus is the collection of Penitential Psalms. The Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Confession, so named in Cassiodorus's commentary from the 6th century, are the Psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142. These Psalms are expressive of sorrow for sins. In Psalm 32 David finds great relief and joy after finally confessing his sins before God. At first the wicked acts committed by him went unacknowledged causing great physical and mental anguish. But David has a change of heart:
I acknowledged my sin unto thee; * and mine unrighteousness have I not hid.
I said, I will confess my sins unto the LORD; * and so thou forgavest the wickedness of my sin.
There is great relief and blessedness when we come to our senses, recognize our sins no matter how great or small, and speak directly to God. We should remember that we cannot hide our sins from God, as He knows us completely. By His grace God helps us to recognize our sin, and he waits for us to come to Him, so that we can be absolved and restored.
In Psalm 51, often associated with Psalm 32, David gives us a glimpse of benefits of confession. After admitting his sin, David prays for full absolution and redemption:
Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness, * that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Turn thy face from my sins, * and put out all my misdeeds.
Make me a clean heart, O God, * and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence, * and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
O give me the comfort of thy help again, * and stablish me with thy free Spirit.
The Psalms present a template for us to confess our sins, and St. John succinctly summarizes this necessity for confession:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1 v8-9).
Throughout his first epistle, John focuses on the indwelling of God within us. Denial of our sins shuts the door to our hearts and the Divine indwelling cannot occur, cutting us off from Christ, the Spirit, the Truth and His Word. If these things do not abide in us, then we do not have life nor a union with the One who is life. In this state of denial, we turn our backs on the Divine gifts won for us at Calvary. This Lent, when you are contemplating The Way of the Cross or Christ’s Passion, consider the folly of humanity when we deny the gifts offered to us by these events: all of our brokenness fixed by the ultimate sacrifice. Christ walked and suffered the Via Dolorosa so that we might walk in the Light. Why would we not accept this trade?
We must remember these three simple truths about confession and sin:
1. Confession speaks of the love of sins forgiven.
2. Confession expresses our repentance and acceptance of God’s forgiveness.
3. God designed Confession to be a blessing. A special gift that binds us forever unto Him.
So no matter the sin nor the amount of sin… do not let that be an impediment to forgiveness. We are worthy of God’s forgiveness and Love. The way is clear and straight, we just have follow the path to the Light as David did in Psalm 32. I leave you with the first verse and refrain from Kathleen Thomerson keenly apt hymn which echoes 1 John 1:5 (This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all).
I want to walk as a child of the light
I want to follow Jesus
God sent the stars to give light to the world
The star of my life is Jesus
In Him, there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The Lamb is the light of the city of God
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus
-- Fr. Deacon Chris Fish
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,
where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
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Men's Group, Saturday March 19, 8:30 AM, undercroft, great breakfast, fellowship, and Bible study
Sunday Services, 7:45, 9:00 & 11:15 AM nursery care provided during 9 & 11:15 AM services (for online participation for the services go to: https://www.facebook.com/saintsofscotland/ )
Sunday school, 10:30 AM
Wednesday Service 12 noon (can be seen also at https://www.facebook.com/saintsofscotland/)
Stations of the Cross & Lenten Suppers, Every Friday during Lent at 7:00 PM (except Good Friday) If you can provide a soup without meat and a bread supper for one or more of these Fridays, please sign up on the sheet on the bulletin board in the undercroft.
Vestry meeting, Monday March 28, 7:30 PM, undercroft
Please remember to pray for everyone on the parish's prayer list that is in the attached bulletins.
Your Food Donations are Greatly Needed
Please help this month with a food donation if you are able. Christ House is very thankful for the food we provide to them each month. Please also buy low sugar cereals (and not the kid's types that have lots of sugar). Current needs include the following:
• canned meats (chicken, corned beef, spam)
• peanut butter
• canned vegetables (corn, green beans - (regular and low sodium)
• individual fruit cups (low sugar)
• canned fruit (low sugar)
• cereal (low sugar)
• pasta (regular and gluten-free)
• instant potatoes
• Macaroni & cheese kits
• Coffee, cooking oil, flour, sugar
MaRIH Center is also in great need of our help (crisis pregnancy center)
MaRIH Center with its all volunteer staff has been providing help to mothers-to-be and mothers in need. If you can provide some of the items that are needed, please do so. (You can leave the donations where the food for the food bank is collected on the pew in the undercorft.)
Baby wipes (an ongoing great need)
Diapers (sizes 1, 4, 5, & 6)
Similac Advanced Formula
Batteries (all sizes)
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