12 Kinds of Confession

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I must confess of my unspeakable thing in the dark, empty space between us. Deep calls out to deep beyond the eavesdroppers, real or imagined. Without a word I reveal my naked truth. I wince. Search me, know me, hear what I cannot say but must confess – but only to You.

I must confess to you the error of my ways. If I tell you, the secret unclenches and I might wriggle free. In your eyes compassion, maybe even kindness, will minister a healing I cannot find otherwise. I need you to hear so I may heal.

I must confess in unison with the congregation that I have sinned—by what I have done and what I have failed to do. This is the ancient tradition handed down to me like a family recipe, the catechism that gives me words to say what I would otherwise resist saying.

I must confess that temptation encircles me and I am trapped. In every direction I see an apple, an ambush, an animal seeking to devour me. I’m afraid! I feel the words of denial scaling my throat: I don’t know him, I don’t know him, I don’t know him!

I must confess what You already know—I am fragile. I am dust, stardust perhaps, but dust nonetheless and I will return to the earth. Who am I that You consider me, that You care for me? Why do You invite me to tend Your garden when I don’t even have a green thumb?

I must confess my hurt. I’m not impervious to insults nor am I immune to slights. You lied to me, as if I wasn’t worth the time truth-telling takes. I hate admitting this, but you hurt me and I don’t know what happens next.

I must confess the distance between us these days. Have I done something wrong? Is there a  reason you avoid me in the foyer and don’t return my calls? I’m willing to listen. I’ll bring a witness. Can we talk? Can you forgive me, friend?

I must confess that I believe–and I don’t. Maybe I need more signs, more wonders, to thrust my fingers into the wounds of your hands for myself. It’s not that I doubt the goodness of Your Kingdom, but rather the slowness of its coming. Help me!

I must confess my complicity in systems I did not create but that I perpetuate, even benefit from. The color of my skin affords me rights and luxuries that others are denied. Embedded and enculturated, I am part of the problem that puts my brothers and sisters in daily peril.

We must confess our collective wrongdoing—what we did, what our ancestors did, what we fail to do, even today, to move toward justice for our neighbors. Let our prayers and protests be our confession, as we keep vigil and keep marching. 

We must confess that we are dead—dead to systemic sins that threaten our neighbors, dead to our prejudices that separate us from one another, dead to the shame that keeps us hidden in the bush from You. Drown all our denials and raise us to affirm our love for You and Your sheep. Baptize us into resurrection life.

We must confess that Jesus is Lord, and Caesar is not.

Jesus is Lord, and pharaoh is not.

Jesus is Lord, and every tongue, every tribe will say so in the New City.

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