Image: Nina Bisognani
Most merciful God, we confess that 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. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.
I have friends who are atheists, and I respect their choice. I have friends who are Christian but do not attend services, and I understand how busy life can get. I can even understand the frustration of those who feel alienated by organized religion. I certainly believe it is possible to be a good person without attending church every Sunday. But…there is something people miss who do not attend a service or have a daily commitment to prayer. People who don’t reflect daily on their actions may miss the opportunity to accept their personal fallibility. More and more these days, people seem unwilling to say the simple words: “I am truly sorry and I humbly repent.” Denial and deflection of blame are the playbook that keeps celebrities and politicians from taking any responsibility and thus setting a sad standard for the rest of us.
The confession above is part of our church service and centers around our admission of sin to God, but as I recited it last week, I noticed how easy and comfortable it can be to turn that prayer into a safe little poetic turn of phrase, private between us and God. But…what would happen if we lived our “Sorry”? More than just the easy “I’m sorry” when we bump into someone in the hallway or miss an appointment. What if we truly stepped out of church into the world with the intent of repairing the brokenness? Of admitting to others (not just to God) that we have done wrong? For me, that’s not always so easy. It means being vulnerable. The world is made up of human beings who aren’t always as forgiving as God. Sometimes it seems like people can’t wait to see others make a false step. Fortunately, God is beside us and rooting for us. Maybe even nudging us a little.
So let me start: if I have ever hurt your feelings, I am truly sorry. Feel free to let me know and I will try to do better. And now it’s your turn…