Out of Vogue

Exhortation from Sunday, November 21, 2010

In the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer, the Morning Prayer service begins with a reading like Psalm 51:3, “I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”  The order then launches into a pastoral call to confess sin and the corporate confession begins.   In the 1979 edition, the Morning Prayer service begins with a Scripture reading of praise and does not even include a confession of sin, though one is encouraged.

Confession of sin is out of vogue.  One reason communion becomes a time of spiritual pressure-washing in most churches is that it is done so rarely.  Modern culture despises repentance.  No one is wrong; everyone is right because everyone is assumed to have the authority to determine right.  There are no distinctions – men/women, parent/child, pastor/congregant, husband/wife – and, by extension, no right or wrong. 

As a result, we should not be surprised by the anemic worship that takes place in the modern Church.  Worship without repentance is impossible.  Psalm 24:3-4 says, “Who shall ascend into the holy hill of the Lord: or who shall rise up in His holy place?  Even he that hath clean hands, and a pure heart: and that hath not lifted up his mind unto vanity, nor sworn to deceive his neighbor.”  When the Church fails to or refuses to confess and repent before the Lord the result is that only self-worship can take place.

So, let us always take to heart the necessity of confession and repentance; no merely for liturgical appropriateness, but because to neglect it is to make worship impossible.

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