Grace like an Old Familiar Poem
Every week we are called out of the world into the presence of God and having rejoiced in that privilege we are reminded of our sins and failings, and we are called to confess them before moving on with the rest of the service. The confession of sins is not here so that you can save your sins up throughout the week and then deal with them here and now. This confession and absolution is not a better or more effective confession and absolution than the promises of God in Scripture to all those who confess their sins wherever and whenever they are convicted by the Spirit of God. But then some will wonder, if it’s no different than confessing your sins and believing God’s declaration of forgiveness on Tuesday, why do it here in the Lord’s Service on Sunday? The answer is that we are called to continually confess our sins and turn from them. When you are in the car and you have sinned confess it and turn from it; when you are in the kitchen and you have sinned confess it and turn from it. And when you come here to worship the Triune God with the church universal we must be reminded of our need and duty of confessing our sins. What if you can’t think of any sins that you need to confess? Then use the moment of silent confession to ask God to show you sins that need confessing. Finally, when I declare that your sins are forgiven, you must know that this is not some power resident in me or any other minister. When your son or daughter sins, you as parents after the sin has been confessed are authorized to declare that their sins are forgiven. Every Christian is authorized to pronounce the forgiveness of God to any other person who has confessed and forsaken their sins with all honesty and faith. But just as God has established authority in the home, he has also established authority in the church. Ministers do not have any more spiritual hocus pocus than the next believer, but we are called to lead. We are called to declare the Word of God; we are called to guard the Word of God and to call you, the people of God to believe it. So do not come to this confession with doubts or mechanical formalism. Do not say these words while thinking about the dishes in the sink at home or the baseball game on television or the papers piling up at work. Speak these words like an old familiar poem, like an old song that reminds you of many years gone by, like a story your grandfather or great grandfather used to tell. This is the good and ancient gospel, that in Jesus Christ sins are forgiven. So come believing the Good News of grace.