lent resources one: confession

20 Mar

[LENT 2011 at Sanctuary]

For the first week of Lent we focused in on CONFESSION. Below you will find our opening reflection, a short film that Psalm 51 was read over, a powerful word from Sarah Wignall, and a song that the Sanctuary worship team performed.
Opening reflection:

In confession a man breaks through to certainty.  Why is it that it is often easier for us to confess our sins to God than to a brother? God is holy and sinless, He is a just judge of evil and the enemy of all disobedience.  But a brother is sinful as we are.  He knows from his own experience the dark night of secret sin.  Why should we not find it easier to go to a brother than to the holy God?  …We must ask ourselves whether we have not often been deceiving ourselves with our confession to God, whether we have not rather been confessing our sins to ourselves and also granting ourselves absolution.

Who can give us the certainty that, in the confession and forgiveness of our sins, we are not dealing with ourselves, but with the living God?  God gives us this certainty through our brother.  Our brother breaks the circle of self-deception.  A man who confesses his sin in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

FILM: with the reading of Psalm 51

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Psalm 51

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A CONFESSION: a testimony by Sarah Wignall
I have decided it is time to start writing my story.  I have no clear idea why, although I believe at some point it will lead to a confession.  While I can’t fully grasp being strong enough to do that, I do know that I won’t survive this way forever. I am tired. I am so tired of searching for God’s love and only being able to glimpse it for a moment because there is a huge blackness between us.  I am so afraid.  I don’t sleep well anymore- it has been a long time since peace found me.
I am tired of the most painful words I hear being “I love you”.  Being loved hurts.  That shouldn’t be.
It took seven days to write my story.
I did confess.
God breathed life through his words.

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you.  Give all your worries to and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.
When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.  My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Finally I confessed my sin to you and stopped trying to hide them.  I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”  And you forgave me!  All my guilt is gone.
Death had its hands around my throat; the terrors of the grave overtook me.  I saw only trouble and sorrow.  Then I called to the Lord “Please Lord, save me!”
From the depth of despair, O Lord, I call for your help.  Hear my cry, O Lord.  Pay attention to my prayer.  Lord if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive?  But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.  He rescues them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.
I love the Lord because he hears and answered my prayers.  Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath!
Don’t you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the Earth?  He never grows faint or weary.  No one can measure the depths of His understanding.  He gives power to those who are worn out; he offers strength to the weak.
I was facing death, and then he saved me.
Now I can rest again, for the Lord has been so good to me.  He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
Praise the Lord! He was angry with me, but now he comforts me.  See, God has come to save me.  I will trust in him and not be afraid.  The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited his people and redeemed them.
I will lie down in peace and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in the robe of righteousness. I am like a bride with her jewels.
The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!
By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.
I will not die, but I will live to tell what the Lord has done.
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SONG: Beautiful Things
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