Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sermon: Confession and Wrap-Up

Sermon: Confession and Wrap-Up

          As we arrive at the end of our 6 week sermon series on Luther’s Small Catechism, we arrive at one of the best kept secrets of the Lutheran Church—Confession.
          Now, of course we regularly confess collectively on a Sunday morning, but we in fact can go beyond that, we also have a tradition of individual confession.
          So, today, I’ll briefly consider confession:
·       Why we ought to do it,
·       what sins we ought to confess,
·       and how we ought to confess them.
          Then I’ll conclude with a brief wrap-up of these last six weeks in Luther’s Small Catechism.

          Why should we confess?
          One of the things many of the ex-Roman Catholics among you muse about,
like to tell stories about,
is confession.
          I’ve heard on several occasions about going to Private Confession to Confess sins week in…
and week out…
and pretty quickly the well runs dry—you don’t have any particular sin to confess, so, in order to satisfy the priest, you’d make things us.
          “Oh, sure, 6 lustful thoughts since breakfast… I was wroth at the crossing guard… I envied my brother his backpack”—things like that.
          This is not unique to our time, Luther too dealt with this bad practice of, essentially forced, confession. He responds to this abuse by insisting that confession ought to be voluntary. You ought to go to individual confession, when a particular sin troubles you.
          We confess in order to ease our conscience,
to escape those things that are eating away at us.
Those things pushing us away from a faithful abundant life.
We confess because something keeps us up at night, because a sin has become like a rock in our shoe and needs to be removed so we can again walk well.
          What sins should we confess?
          On one hand, we ought to regularly confess in a general sense that we are sinners…“we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves,” right?

          But, we ought to confess particulars too.
          Firstly, as I said before, we ought to confess those sins we can’t shake, those things which are troubling us and we feel compelled to cast off.
          Secondly, we can swing back to the beginning of this sermon series, the 10 commandments—and use them to reflect upon our lives and find places where we’ve fallen short.
          In fact, as on the first Sunday of this series, the ushers will be passing out Examines at the end of the service to help you reflect upon your life in light of the 10 commandments.
          Finally, we can reflect upon our particular roles, and how they may expose us to particular sins. For example, Pastors, counselors, and the like take various oaths of confidentiality, so the 8th commandment is often a harder one for us.
Likewise, a job like soldier or policeman, where adrenaline and split second decisions are necessary, might make you more susceptible to breaking the 5th commandment.
For that matter, imagine all the stresses being a parent puts upon the soul!
          All that to say, there are particular places we fall short as human beings, and we ought to acknowledge them.

          How should we confess?
          One of the greatest parts of being a protestant pastor is that the spiritual life of the congregation isn’t all about me
—lay folk have an equal inheritance and responsibility. This goes for many aspects of our life together
including confession.
          While we do have a particular order of individual confession and forgiveness (Page 243 in the Cranberry Book)
—and I as the pastor would happily hear any of your confessions,
While that is all true, I’m not the only person you can turn to. Look around you, all these people you are with are people you can also take the weight of your sins to, people who can help you bear your burden well.
          Because, there are two parts to confession. One is your naming of the thing which troubles you
—you can do that with fumbling lips and halting voice, that matters not.
          What does matter is the second part
—that you are forgiven!
Our actions may be imperfect, but God’s response
—the declaration of your forgiveness
—that’s perfect,
 that’s God’s actions for us.
God is gracious,
does hear your confession,
and does forgive you.
God’s grace breaks though whether it is declared by me, the Pastor, or any of your sisters and brothers in Christ.

          Confess because you are moved to,
confess those things most troubling to your soul,
confess knowing God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and will forgive you all your sins!
In conclusion, we’ve now spent six weeks at the root of our Lutheran Faith—at the heart of it all.
          We’ve look at the 10 commandments, where we are reminded of our need, and our desires for false gods.
          We’ve looked at the creed, where we are told who the True God is, who meets those needs.
          We’ve looked at the Lord’s Prayer, where we find out how to address this God of ours.
          We’ve looked at Baptism, where we hear how we are adopted by God.
          We’ve looked at Holy Communion, where we receive ongoing grace from God.
          And finally, today, in Confession, we learn to live in light of God—as sinners being made holy.