The Practice of Confession

A – Adoration

C – Confession

T –

S –

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Psalms 51:1 NIV)

This is what David prayed after the prophet Nathan called him out for his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and his subsequent murder of her husband Uriah. David was the King of Israel, a shepherd boy turned war hero turned royalty, a man after God’s own heart. But David tried to keep his murderous affair with Bathsheba a secret. And God, through Nathan, called David on it. And the house of David was marred forever because of it. It was a personal and political sin that never left David’s house. It forever changed Israel’s history.

Yes, this post is a post about individual Christians confessing individual sins to God and within community on a regular basis – as the Bible calls Christians to do that (James 5:16). But this post is also about when a nation is brought to its knees by the sins of its leaders. When a nation needs to come before God and confess its collective sins – so as to “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24 NIV)

What we saw a year ago today at the US Capitol was sin in action. Political sin. Personal sin. As many have said, it was just the culmination of years of sin by Trump’s enablers and Trump himself. Eugene Cho said a year ago today: “This is the result of several years of enabling, spewing conspiracies, and lack of accountability.” Another post I saw said it really well: “The name of Christ has been dragged through the mud – not by His critics, but by those who claim to be his followers.” There were “Jesus Saves” signs commingled with Confederate flags at the insurrection. There was white privilege on full display. As Ibram X. Kendi said a year ago today: “If these people were Black… well, we all know what would be happening right now to them.”

King David’s sin was personal and political. He and his house were never the same afterward, nor was the nation of Israel. The Trump presidency was our country’s political and personal sin – enabled by religious conservatives and an immoral political right. But we, as Americans, all share in the collective blame. We allowed the Trump presidency to become the grave threat to our democracy it became. As a white male, I confess my sin of not doing enough, of taking for granted my white privilege during the Trump presidency. Now, a year into the Biden presidency – where we still have a racist legal system and immoral policies regarding immigration, the death penalty, abortion, paid family leave, military spending, voting laws, labor rights, and the widening wealth gap (to name a few) – we collectively must confess our country’s sins. Especially in the face of the COVID pandemic. This practice of confession is not just about Trump; it’s about Biden too. And it’s about every Presidential administration before them. It’s about our nation as a whole – our past, our present, and our future.

I know it’s not a feel-good post to bring up sin and confession. But confession is a practice that my faith tradition has practiced for thousands of years. Confession acknowledges our imperfections and humbles us before a good and gracious God. We are far from a perfect country, and we need to acknowledge that with a practice of collective confession.

Lord, have mercy on our country. Especially in this pandemic, Lord, heal our land.


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