IVP - Strangely Dim - I Confess

May 27, 2008

I Confess

Today is May 27--one day after Memorial Day--and the forecasted high temperature--57--is twelve degrees warmer than the air temperature at lunchtime. This is strange, and my outlook today is correspondingly dim. On such days I am sorely tempted to pray for, rather than against, global warming. I'm also sorely tempted to feel sorry for myself.

I'm privileged, however; I have a home and a car and an office, all of which can easily bounce back and forth from "cool" to "heat" based on my circumstance or whim. Others are not so fortunate--among them the guy in a parka trimming the grass outside my office; the homeless men, women and children who rely on temporary shelters, many of which close between Memorial Day and Labor Day for maintenance or convenience, counting on the warmer weather to make homelessness easier to bear; the folks in Tornado Alley across the Midwest who over the weekend went from being homeowners to being homeless; the people, places and things across the world who suffer from the effects of climate change even as I pray my self-indulgent, tongue-in-cheek prayers for more of it.

I'm reminded in these moments of vague clarity of a prayer I prayed in concert with hundreds of fellow congregants week in, week out throughout my childhood. It's a prayer of confession that morphs gradually into a prayer for transformation. It's a prayer directed not only to God but to God's church, and though I am an avowed Protestant and as such am uncomfortable with the line about Mary, I pray this prayer today as much to you and the great cloud of witnesses that anticipated and yet surround us, as I pray it to God:

I confess to Almighty God
And to you my brothers and sisters,
That I have sinned through my own fault,
In my thoughts and in my words,
In what I have done, and what I have failed to do.
I ask Blessed Mary, ever virgin,
And all the angels and saints,
And you, my brothers and sisters,
To pray for me to the Lord our God.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at May 27, 2008 8:53 AM Bookmark and Share


The main prayer of confession we pray at my Episcopal church is this:

"Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against thee in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved thee 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 thy will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen."

I like that it speaks on behalf of "we," but it is kind of sad that it leaves out explicitly confessing to the community, huh? I understand the weird feelings about asking Mary and the saints to pray, but the general idea of confessing to others and asking for their prayers is something so important, yet something so underrated in Protestant communities.

Thanks for sharing that powerful and necessary prayer with us!

Comment by: Ashleigh at June 11, 2008 10:21 PM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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