I can only speak for myself, but I feel grossly inadequate to the task of living the Christian life most of the time. I’m challenged by preaching and Scripture to believe that God demands a strong pursuit of the calling to discipleship. Most of the time I fall short. I suppose that is why I have no problem thinking of the practice of confession sacramentally.
Just this week I forgot two really important communications that I was supposed to send. I also have an event that I’m planning with a team that is registered for double the students that we expected, so we are all scrambling to ensure that we can serve those students well. That doesn’t even attend to the fact that my dissertation…a seven year project… is due to my committee in 13 days. And all of that is just my inadequacies at work.
I’ve been really impatient with my son and all he wants is to play together, something that I’m certain he won’t want to do for long. I forget most of what my wife asks of me, because my memory has less longevity than a bowl of ice cream in July. My parents would like me to call more. My sister is ready for a Christmas wish list for our family. And that is just the family stuff.
In worship last week I committed to contacting students every morning for a week that I hadn’t spoken with in a while. It was so cool to catch up…for one day. I was also supposed to hold another student accountable to her commitments that she made that night. I forgot to contact her after that first day. I read the Bible a few days last week. Prayer is awesome, but only because I pray while my son is falling asleep. I guess the spiritual life isn’t a ton better.
But yesterday I led a university communion service. Just before we received Christ’s Eucharist we said a simple prayer of confession together. At the end of the prayer one of our student leaders stood up and said: “Hear the Good News! Christ died for us while we were still sinners. That proves God’s love us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!”
In that moment a 20 year old college student spoke over us what God had already proclaimed, that God is indeed enough. His arm is not too short to save. That student acted as a priest to me and those that gathered with us as he spoke those words of grace. Even while I continue to fail, the grace of Jesus covers my inadequacies.
I don’t think I am the only one who needs those words of grace. Those of us that wear busyness as a badge of honor need a word of peace spoken over us. Those for whom perfection is a thorn in the side need of a word of mercy spoken over them.
That is what a 20 year old college student offered to me yesterday in a mighty sacramental act: “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.” Sacraments are actions of the church that make tangible what is already true in heaven. I don’t think I was the only one that needed a person standing in front of me telling me that God’s grace is bigger than my failures.
So if you are like me, busyness and unrighteousness are winning the battle in your mind, then I challenge you to confess your sins. You can find a friend to speak with or you can do it with your church community in worship. Wherever you confess, listen carefully as the priests around you proclaim the forgiveness of Jesus over your soul.