Tuesday, February 24, 2009

General Confession

Speaking the General Confession at the Divine Service brings us into the corporate life of forgiveness that takes place within the church. The Christian life of repentance, confession, and absolution is not solely an individual matter between “God and I” but also between Jesus and His church. Confession and Holy Absolution therefore is also a “communal event,” marked by a community who comes together both acknowledging and hearing God’s word of forgiveness.

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray in the fifth petition, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It is here where our Lord makes clear that He wants us live together in continuous confession and absolution. The Christian community both speaks this word to one another in the daily life of forgiveness and hears it from God himself when he speaks through the Pastor.

We can understand this continuous flow of forgiveness coming from the font of Holy Baptism which “works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.”

We are also called to forgive those who sin against us because as Christians we have received this heavenly gift. We may do this whenever we are granted the opportunity and may also speak this word of forgiveness in our daily prayer life.

At the prayer office of Compline we are presented with an opportunity to receive this gift in the following way. After the opening versicles we may speak:

I confess to Almighty God, before the whole company of heaven, and to you, bretheren, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault. Wherefore I pray God Almighty to have mercy on me, forgive me all my sins, and bring me to everlasting life.

The Almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins. Amen.

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