Individual Confession (March 2014; Volume 3, Issue 3)
In the Lutheran tradition “Ash Wednesday is a solemn day of prayer that begins the season of Lent.” During worship, we confess our Sin with a litany of repentance, and are encouraged to continue through Lent’s 40 days in the attitude of repentance. Some people choose to do with spiritual discipline: fasting, prayer, and acts of service. But no matter whether we give something up or add something to our daily practice, we begin Lent on Ash Wednesday with a visible and verbal reminder jointly of our mortality and Christ’s love in the form of sacrifice.
This Ash Wednesday, in addition to opportunities for worship and the sign of ashes, I will be available at various times throughout the day for individual confession. You might be thinking to yourself, “that is so Catholic,” and although it tends to be much more practiced in the Roman Catholic church, complete with confessionals and penance, we as Lutherans also have a rite of Individual Confession. It is even printed in Lutheran hymnals as a reminder that in addition our frequent practice of beginning Sunday morning worship with corporate confession and forgiveness, we too can participate in individual confession.
I invite you to come and confess before Ash Wednesday worship. “Individual Confession and Forgiveness is a ministry of the church through which a person may confess sin and receive the assurance of God’s forgiveness.” It is a chance to “return to our baptism where our sinful self is drowned and dies” and to hear that “God raises us up again and again to new life in Jesus Christ.”
This might be new and intimidating or uncomfortable to many of you, but I wanted to offer you the opportunity. “There is a confidential nature to this order, in keeping with the discipline and practice of the Lutheran church.”
If you have further questions, please let me know. Otherwise, just stop by my office on Wednesday, March 5th (9-11am, 1:30-2:30pm, or 6-7pm). If you cannot make these times, please let me know and we will work out a time to meet.
Quotes are from the introductions to “Ash Wednesday” and “Individual Confession and Forgiveness” in Evangelical Lutheran Worship.