Say It Out Loud

confession

Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love! Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion! Wash me completely clean of my guilt; purify me from my sin! Because I know my wrongdoings, my sin is always right in front of me. I’ve sinned against you—you alone. I’ve committed evil in your sight. That’s why you are justified when you render your verdict, completely correct when you issue your judgment. Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin, from the moment my mother conceived me. And yes, you want truth in the most hidden places; you teach me wisdom in the most secret space. Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and celebration again; let the bones you crushed rejoice once more. Hide your face from my sins; wipe away all my guilty deeds! Create a clean heart for me, God; put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me! Please don’t throw me out of your presence; please don’t take your holy spirit away from me. Return the joy of your salvation to me and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach wrongdoers your ways, and sinners will come back to you. Deliver me from violence, God, God of my salvation, so that my tongue can sing of your righteousness. Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise. You don’t want sacrifices. If I gave an entirely burned offering, you wouldn’t be pleased. A broken spirit is my sacrifice, God. You won’t despise a heart, God, that is broken and crushed. Do good things for Zion by your favor. Rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. Then you will again want sacrifices of righteousness—entirely burned offerings and complete offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar. (Psalm 51, Common English Bible)

In the two studies I lead during the week at First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas where I serve as the pastor, we started looking at the Adam Hamilton study Christianity’s Family Tree. Tonight when we meet we will be in our third week, having already looked at both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions. Tonight we will look at the Lutheran tradition.

Last week, in both the Wednesday night study and the Thursday lunch study, I took a little time to share my feelings on something I think we Protestants have lost. In the Roman Catholic tradition, confession is a sacrament and a great deal of importance is placed on it. Most of us know, Roman Catholic priests hear the confessions of the individual.

We have lost some real value in the idea and practice of confession. I do know that many Protestants are faithful in their confession to God for the sins they have committed. In Psalm 51 above, one of my personal favorites because of its raw emotion in the face of deep personal sin confessed to God, the psalmist confesses directly to God. There is no preacher or priest hearing the confession and interceding on behalf of the psalmist.

As a matter of pure theology, I wholeheartedly concur. We are as capable of confessing our sins before God ourselves just as well as when someone listens and intercedes on our behalf.

As a practical matter I still believe we have lost something. Please understand. I am not trying to sign up for the job of listening to all my church member’s sins. While I would always be happy to sit in a pastoral environment, including this one with my members, I don’t think that is necessary.

I do think there are two areas where we can improve. First, there is something about hearing ourselves speak our sins, hearing it go from our mouth to our ear that makes us miss out on something important. As I read Psalm 51, I imagine the psalmist, in these cries of deep emotional pain, is praying out load. Sure, God hears us when we pray silently, but there is something for us that is missing. When the words of my sins go from my mouth to my ear that just makes them more real. I believe God will forgive our sins regardless of how we confess them in prayer, but for us, there is something to saying them out loud.

That brings me to the second thing I think we are missing. While I don’t think we must confess to a priest or preacher or anyone for that matter, there is also something important that happens when we choose to do so. When I confess my sins to another person, not only do I hear them, but I have made that person both an accountability partner and an encouragement partner. If someone else knows, they can ask me how things are going. They can remind me how far I have come. Their words can make a difference. This is why Twelve Step programs work. It is more than me on my own.

While I think these are important things our traditions have lost, how you pray and confess is really up to you. It is a matter between you and God. And, at the end of the day, John reminds us, “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong. (1 John 1:9, Common English Bible). And, that is what is truly important. Our confession will result in God’s forgiveness.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

One thought on “Say It Out Loud

  1. Pastor Broyles, I read your thoughts almost everyday, what a blessing you are to us Christians! Thank you for sharing them with us. I miss you & Cindy and must make time to come visit you both. Hang in Brother your doing great!
    Robert W.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s