Posts Tagged Confession
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence– as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil– to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed. We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people. [NRSA: Isaiah 64:1-9]
We begin Advent as a spiritual Journey
Our starting point is our current condition. Looking around and within ourselves. Things are not perfect. We are not perfect, but we have hope. Our hope is in Christ!
• We have been blinded by enormous data,
• we have been swallowed up by conformity,
• we are already investing beyond our control,
• we have the demons that test, tease, and torment us.
• We feel grip of grief. We know the repetition of confinement.
• We think what is evil; we do what is evil.
• We welcome evil into our hearts, minds, and souls.
• We watch what is sinful round the world,
• we grow a custom to brokenness and violence in the news,
• we are desensitized in the entertainment we consume. It’s ok, it’s not real, it has no effect on me.
• And yet it does. It all make evil more normal and digestible
How do we break through?
We come at Advent and recognize we are but a lump of clay before God. But we are not just any lump of clay. We are the lump of clay that God loves, molds, and patiently reworks. God has unfinished business with each of us, as with all of us.
Advent begins a spiritual journey that starts our knowing or remembering that we are the clay and not the Potter.
Here is our prayer for this first week: . Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.
• Knowing Christ in our hearts and out hearts in Gods is our destination,
• we need to acknowledge we have a way to go.
• But we have been given, The Way. Out, the Way through, and the Way home
Thankfully, while God has every right to be furious with us, God loves us more than we can imagine.
The journey is one of yielding to potters hand, vision, and will for us.
Packed for the journey
Every trip, even in unknown adventures needs resources. Has in the tank, snacks for nourishment, and. Map if we lose out way. The counterparts for our spiritual journey as the same. We find direction, energy, and nourishment from our Christian fellowship, worship, study, and service.
These are the tools, activities, and necessities for us to gather, trust and use.
Our first steps are
1. to confess,
2. repent, and
3. remember we ARE plagued with the struggle of sin and weariness.
4. And we are taking first steps back to the heart of worship, heart of faith, to the heart of God.
Step one: Remember “I am not the potter. I am the clay.”
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.
Prayers of confession: (portions from various UMBoW prayers)
Almighty and merciful God,
we know that when we offend another, we offend you.
[We choose other paths, we move away from you.]
We are aware that we have often allowed the shadow of hate
to cloud our souls, hiding the light from our [weary and disinterested] eyes.
We have said unpleasant and hurtful things to our brothers and sisters
when they failed to live up to our expectations.
[We have said things that are pleasant to ourselves and others, but in so doing we have said and done hurtful things to you]
Grant that we might find that spark of love that ever burns within us,
[Fan the flame of your Spirit]
[We long for the grace we know in Jesus Christ]
the love that you have shown to us even when we failed you.
Fan the embers of that love until it roars again
in flames of love, peace, and reconciliation.
Forgive us our sin and help us to forgive those who have sinned against us.
Lead us into new life through your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for the sins of all. Amen.
[Based on (MICHAEL J. O’DONNELL, U.S.A., 20TH CENT.) but with additions]
Audience: Trust in themselves and those who regard others with contempt
Parable: Pharisee vs Tax Collector
As people with a strong work ethic it is hard to get to the heard of this passage.
• We celebrate those who pull themselves up by their own boot straps
• We value those folks who follow the rules and don’t buck the system.
• We encourage good behavior and clean living.
• We reward perfect attendance.
We hear about this fellow who tithes and fasts and we want to give him a medal.
Who find’s God’s love and power in the story?
The one who already knows or who dares to come in.
We know folks who say things like:
• I’ve already got that Jesus thing covered.
• I’ve already been baptized, confirmation. I go to church all the time.
• I love God and Jesus, but not the church.
Faith is important but my work, family, money, time are more important at the moment.
Which gets us to the heart of God?
Spiritual trust or Mental decision or Good Behavior?
Is it something I do or something God is doing through the Spirit in me?
I believe this is where most Church folks get tripped up.
We are taught give our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness as member vows.
These are good and important things.
But these do not make us Christian or Methodist or even faithful on their own.
The are our RESPONSE to Christ first being in our lives, not what we do to earn our way in.
A second part of this passage is who DESERVES to be with God?
Those who do acts-of-piety or those who stumble in from the place of sin?
Fast 2x week, tithe with pride vs One who steals from the poor.
Look what I can do vs. Don’t look at what I have done
Q: Why does the tax collector come to the temple to pray in the first place, if they feel so unworthy?
A: The difference between the two who came to prayer is that one come only out of pride or habit, the other comes to worship.
For all that effort on the part of the dutiful leader, the had come for themselves.
The tax collector had come looking for God.
A Third part is the passage is the value of self and others.
God I thank you that I am not like other people.
You can feel better know there is someone out there worse off than you.
At least I’m not as bad off as (fill in the blank)
• Q: Who does God celebrate most, One lost or 99 who know better?
• A: The shepherd finding the One rejoices and celebrates with friends.
Finally is the core teaching of this text:
Reward comes to the humble.
The proud already have the reward they will receive.
One could read this passage and say:
• “it doesn’t matter if I do good.”
• “I don’t have to fast, tithe or come regularly to church.”
• “I want to take the publican – the tax collector plan and come when I need to come.”
JUSTIFICATION: Good Methodist Word – Christ’s work saving Us.
But here is the heart of the text… once we experience humility we find the door to God’s heart. All the faithful practices of the church and faith and traditions become our response to finding God.
• Tithing is not something we are born doing.
• Fasting goes against our physical programming.
• The church is called to be Christ’s body on earth made up of sinful folks like us.
SO WHAT: Mulligan time, come as you are. Practice Lord have mercy on me a sinner. Lawd, Hav’ Me Cry.. Lawd, Have Me become 2nd & you 1st.
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’
13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
–NRSV Luke 18:9-14