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Sin, Confession and Forgiveness

For the season of Lent starting this Sunday, February 18, we will be adding what is commonly called a “Confession and Forgiveness” to the worship service. This will be where everyone in the service confesses their sins (not out loud, but silently) to God. Everyone then receives forgiveness for these sins. Many churches have something like this on Sunday morning.

When we are talking about confession and forgiveness, what we are really talking about is sin.

Which I realize, most people do not like talking about sin. I can understand why. It can often seem like we as Christians are obsessed with sin. And especially obsessed with the sin of other people. For a time during high school I was obsessed with sin. Or rather, with not sinning. I didn’t want to make a mistake, to sin, lest my salvation would be in jeopardy (thankfully, I now know my salvation is secure no matter what I do).

Sin: a Definition

But what is sin, really?

My working definition is that Sin is anything that separates us from God. Sin moves us farther away from God, instead of closer. To paraphrase 1 Corinthians 12:13, sin means we see God dimly and partially, instead of seeing God clearly and fully. When an action or thought does these things, it is sin.

We all know that sin exists in this world. We see it in the news every day. We see the brokenness, the hurt, the pain, the mistakes.

Why we Need to Confess and be Forgiven

Confessing sin in church is simply acknowledging what is already happening out in the world.

We do this confessing on two levels:

The first level is where we ourselves have personally, individually sinned. It forces us to acknowledge how we are a part of the problem. We are forced to be vulnerable and think about where we’ve messed up, made mistakes, hurt someone.

The second level lies in how we come together as a group to confess our sins. It forces us to acknowledge our corporate sins - our sins that we collectively form from our own individual sinful natures. We are forced to think about our participation in the cultures and systems that perpetuate sin.

We do all of this, on the individual and group level, before God. We also do this in front of each other.

And then, sweet forgiveness is proclaimed. As individuals and as a group, we are forgiven for our sins by God.

This forgiveness says that God is with us. God says, "It’s OK. I throw all of that sin away."

What we do after this forgiveness is up to each of us. My hope is that we try again. And again. And again. Until we get it right. Until there is no more pain and hurt and brokenness.

Sin and Jesus

My greatest hope is that we don’t stay in a place of wallowing and focused on sin.

Because God didn’t let Jesus stay in that place. God resurrected Jesus out of sin to live with God forever.

God doesn’t want us to only see sin and pain and death around us. That’s not the way to heaven. God wants us to see goodness and healing and life around us. THAT is the way to heaven because that is what heaven is like.

And it all begins by confessing and receiving forgiveness of sin.

Peace and blessings,

Pastor Alex

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