Almost every Sunday morning, we begin worship with a Prayer of Confession. It’s a way of acknowledging and taking responsibility for the sin in our lives. For some people, it’s mindless repetition, a rote prayer that doesn’t mean much. For others, mindful repetition deepens its meaning.
The season of Lent is a season of choices. We can practice self-denial by “giving something up” for Lent, or not. We can spend these weeks before Easter focusing on repentance for sin, or not. We can observe a season of quiet, mourning our sin and considering God’s provision for sin, or not.
I’m thinking that observing the season the same way we begin worship each Sunday morning is a good way to begin. This year for Lent, I want to spend some time reflecting on the Prayer of Confession from The Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness on Page 56 of what is affectionately known as “The Green Book,” that is, The Lutheran Book of Worship from 1978. It goes like this:
Pastor: Most Merciful God,
People: We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.
That phrase “Most Merciful God” is a good way to begin thinking about Lent. Even in a quiet, reflective season of mourning, God is most merciful. Scripture reminds us that His mercies are “new every morning,” (Lamentations 3:23).
As we begin to reflect on the presence of sin in our lives, God’s mercy is a balm for our mourning.