In many churches the practice of confessing sin and receiving assurance of God’s forgiveness is a part of public worship. In the church that I’m a pastor in, the United Methodist Church (UMC), the “confession and pardon” is a part of our worship tradition. In some UMC congregations it’s a weekly practice and in others it happens sporadically.
This past Sunday in the sermon, I asked my congregation to incorporate an abbreviated version of the “confession and pardon” into the cycle of their day. I suggested they find a few minutes towards the end of each day to pray this short prayer: “Merciful God, please forgive me,” then take a few moments of silence to review their day, silently confess any known sins to God, and then remind themselves of God’s mercy by saying these words out loud: “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”
As is often the case with my sermons, what I ask others to do can be a challenge for me. I forgot to do this “confession and pardon” on Monday. I thought of it first thing Tuesday morning and did it then. As I silently confessed known sins from the day before, I was grateful for the mercy of God. Then I quietly said, “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”
In that moment came an intense realization of the cost of the forgiveness of my sins from the day before. No matter the number or perceived severity of my confessed sins, the cost of the forgiveness was great! The cross of Christ was what made that forgiveness possible.
May we always know the joy of God’s mercy and the humility of the sacrificial gift God’s mercy is. “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”