It is a subtle shift that we make in our liturgy and preaching. But it’s an important one. We do terrible things and we must confess our action. But we are good. We are made in the image of God. And in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven people.
A Presbyterian minister told me a story about his first year at a certain congregation. His predecessor had abolished the general confession of sins from the Sunday liturgy, and one of the first things this new pastor did was try to reinstate it. But resistance to the proposed change was fierce.
In an issue of the magazine devoted to themes of spiritual renewal, we would underscore the significance of Pope John Paul II’s dramatic effort to renew and purify the Roman Catholic Church through repentance. In celebrating mass on March 12, the first Sunday of Lent, John Paul took the unprecedented step of publicly confessing the sins of the church.
Academic circles sometimes include a giant who publishes relatively little despite the pleading of students and colleagues. Such a figure was Robert Bertram, whom longtime colleague Edward Schroeder calls, in his grateful foreword, “the most unpublished Lutheran theologian of the twentieth century.”
The conversation at Caesarea Philippi is a defining moment for the synoptic Gospels, although only Matthew and Mark name it as the location for Peter’s confession, “You are the Messiah.” For the Gospel narratives as post-Easter interpretations, reflections and perspectives, who Jesus is constitutes the most important question for those early communities that claimed belief in
Should there be a statute of limitations on youthful indiscretions? The question had me hooked, even though it was going to be discussed in one of my least favorite formats: a call-in talk radio show. I knew the conversation would give me a glimpse of popular culture’s sensibilities about forgiveness, accountability and the past.
I shudder when I’m reminded that it is painful for someone with dark skin to hear that “God is light, and in God there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Being legally blind, I know firsthand that to walk in the light (1 John 1:7) often hurts. I wear sunglasses both to darken my world so that I can function and to protect my eyes from the light.