How to introduce the confession in a service

c52c52 Shipmate
The chuch is large, Anglican, conservative evangelical.

More often than not, the service leader will say (and I expect they think they are inventing this afresh every week): "I'm sure we can all think of something we've done wrong this week."

That is a very poor introduction to a prayer that says "we have not loved you with all our heart; we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves."

Apart from saying nothing except what is written in Common Worship and printed on the service sheet for the week, what might be a good way of turning from praise to confession without being patronising, without mansplaining?

I have never experienced either of the emotions sometimes attributed to me at this stage of the service
(i) beforehand - when we praise God we feel how sinful we are
(ii) afterwards - having been forgiven we feel full of praise so let's sing our next praise hymn.

Comments

  • Fawkes CatFawkes Cat Shipmate
    You could try something like:
    DEARLY beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness; and that we should not dissemble nor cloke them before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father; but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same, by his infinite goodness and mercy. And although we ought at all times humbly to acknowledge our sins before God; yet ought we most chiefly so to do, when we assemble and meet together to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy Word, and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul. Wherefore I pray and beseech you, as many as are here present, to accompany me with a pure heart and humble voice unto the throne of the heavenly grace, saying after me:

    Even if these aren't the exact words you're looking for, surely it's the message you are trying to give?
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    The holy apostle James said, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

    Let's do it now. Join with me in reading the prayer on page 443.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    APBA 2nd order: Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, confident in God's forgiveness. The BCP one set out above may have been great once, but is well out of date now and many would miss its meaning.
    :
  • ChoristerChorister Shipmate
    Evangelicals have sometimes been criticised for never wanting to do the 'miserable sinner' bit. And I can see why always being positive and upbeat is seen as good modern psychology. In order to bear this in mind, while introducing some sort of acknowledgement that we are nonetheless never 100% perfect, surely the simple prayer 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner' would suffice. And rather appropriate in Lent.
  • c52c52 Shipmate
    Yes, I'd be quite happy with "Dearly beloved brethren" myself; the quote from James with link is very appealing and would work.
  • I know that this won't help you, as the Confession comes early on in the Anglican liturgy. But in the Reformed style of liturgy I often use, which tends to centre around the preached Word, confession and intercession often arise as a natural reflection on, and response to, what has been said. I have found that very helpful, especially as we don't have a "set" form of confession,
  • The Apostle Paul tells us that 'all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God'. Knowing that God is with us let us acknowledge that we have each sinned, and stand in need of his redeeming grace.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    I know that this won't help you, as the Confession comes early on in the Anglican liturgy. But in the Reformed style of liturgy I often use, which tends to centre around the preached Word, confession and intercession often arise as a natural reflection on, and response to, what has been said.
    I have to say, this confuses me a little. In the BCP (1662 and TEC, at least), the confession comes after the sermon, creed and intercessions. (Maybe Common Worship is different?) And in the Reformed liturgies I’m familiar with, the confession comes early—after the first hymn and perhaps the prayer of the day. It’s always one of the first things in the service.

    Following on mousethief and Arethosemyfeet’s suggestions, Scripture has traditionally been used in my tribe for calls to confession. Aside from the passages they cite, a common call to confession is from 1 John 1:8–9:
    If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,
    and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    This is often followed by something like “So knowing who we are, and trusting in the One to whom we belong, let us confess our sins.”

    FWIW, it has become increasingly common in my tribe for the minister to lead the confession from the font, to underscore the baptismal connection. This has lead to calls to confession (and declarations of forgiveness) that explicitly link confession and forgiveness with baptism and/or cleansing, as the one I quote above does. The minister also typically engages with the water in some way—pouring it into the font, dipping hands in to draw water up and let it fall back in, sometimes even sprinkling the congregation.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited March 10
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    I know that this won't help you, as the Confession comes early on in the Anglican liturgy. But in the Reformed style of liturgy I often use, which tends to centre around the preached Word, confession and intercession often arise as a natural reflection on, and response to, what has been said.
    I have to say, this confuses me a little. In the BCP (1662 and TEC, at least), the confession comes after the sermon, creed and intercessions. (Maybe Common Worship is different?)
    Possibly - it certainly comes early on in the CW Order 1 for Communion, which is what I'm most familiar with.

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    It does come early in in Common Worship Order One, but with the option of putting it after the intercessions and immediately before the peace.
  • I didn't know that.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    In the 1662 BCP Morning and Evening Prayer, it comes at the beginning of the service, which opens, before the invitation which @Fawkes Cat quotes, with a verse or verses from scripture on a theme of penitence. In the 1662 Holy Communion service it comes just as the service moves into the communion part of the service as preparation for receiving the Sacrament. In the C18 and early C19, on a non-Communion Sunday, that second confession would have come after the point when the service would have ended.

    In the Alternative Service Book Holy Communion service, it stayed in that position. That is also where it remains in Common Worship Order 2, but in Order 1 it comes at the beginning, equivalent to where it is in the 1662 Morning and Evening Prayer. As @BroJames says, there's the option of moving it back to the former position but an incumbent needs to know their way round the notes to find this out.

    I'd say that Order 1 is almost universal, and that Order 2 is pretty rare, except that if I do, there's bound to be a Shipmate who says their church only uses Order 2, and they never encounter Order 1 except when they're away from home.


    @Nick Tamen I'm intrigued by what you say about the minister leading the confession from the font, and sprinkling the congregation. I could be wrong as I'm not a Presbyterian but I suspect that would be read as creeping Popery of an advanced order in the Church of Scotland, or for that matter the English URC.
  • CathscatsCathscats Shipmate
    Let's say it would have to be explained very, very thoroughly first!
  • It would never be done in a Baptist Church, of course (no font, for a start).
  • c52c52 Shipmate
    I should add, we usually do have a verse from Scripture such as "repent, for the Kingdom is close at hand" or "if we say we have no sin...".

    The service begins with a hymn, goes on to some calls and responses such as "This is the day the Lord has made"/"Let us rejoice and be glad in it", and then the service leader has to change the mood to one suitable for saying a shared confession. So in order it goes

    Welcome
    Hymn
    Responses
    *
    Bible quote to encourage confession of sins
    Confession
    So-called absolution
    *
    Second hymn

    The asterisks mark a sudden change of tone, and it's the first one that I find hard to handle. From seeing how others do it, I'd say no one has a good answer.

    I am still wondering how the verse from James could be made to fit in. There's a difference between confessing our sins to one another and all speaking a general confession aloud at once. But I do like the idea of saying "Let's do it now."
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    c52 wrote: »
    The asterisks mark a sudden change of tone, and it's the first one that I find hard to handle. From seeing how others do it, I'd say no one has a good answer.
    Hmmm. Our pattern is similar to yours:

    Call to Worship—usually responsive
    First Hymn
    Call to Confession
    Confession
    Silence
    (Possibly a sung Kyrie)
    Assurance of Forgiveness*
    Sung Response—traditionally in my tribe, a setting of the Gloria Patri (“Glory be to the Father…”), but our congregation tends to use one verse of a hymn, which varies by week or season, and that is sometimes upbeat, sometimes contemplative, sometimes something in between.
    The Peace

    What we don’t have is a sudden change in tone; I don’t think anyone feels that, either as we move into confession or as we move out of it. We just feel the flow of the liturgy. I wonder if the change in tone you feel has less to do with the words and more to do with the demeanor or tone of voice of the worship leader.

    * That said, what we would say as the Assurance of Firgiveness is somewhat different from an Anglican-style absolution. What we would hear is more like this:
    Hear the good news!

    Who is in a position to condemn?
    Only Christ, and Christ died for us,
    Christ rose for us,
    Christ reigns in power for us,
    Christ prays for us.

    Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation.
    The old life has gone;
    a new life has begun.

    Brothers and sisters, know that you are forgiven and be at peace.
    Perhaps that, coupled with a call to confession that focuses not on how bad we are but on how faithful and merciful God is, keeps the tone from changing too much. Maybe?
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    @Nick Tamen I'm intrigued by what you say about the minister leading the confession from the font, and sprinkling the congregation. I could be wrong as I'm not a Presbyterian but I suspect that would be read as creeping Popery of an advanced order in the Church of Scotland, or for that matter the English URC.
    To be fair, while the minister will almost always engage with the water in some way, sprinkling the congregation is probably the least likely way. We do it maybe a few times a year at our place.

    That said, fear of creeping Popeyes is something the PC(USA) largely moved past after Vatican II. It can still be found some places, but it’s the exception, not the rule.

    There’s more I could say on the font and use of water at the confession in the PC(USA), and on related practices, but that probably goes beyond the remit of this thread. If I can think of some way to make a separate thread out of it, I will.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    FWIW, it has become increasingly common in my tribe for the minister to lead the confession from the font, to underscore the baptismal connection. This has lead to calls to confession (and declarations of forgiveness) that explicitly link confession and forgiveness with baptism and/or cleansing, as the one I quote above does. The minister also typically engages with the water in some way—pouring it into the font, dipping hands in to draw water up and let it fall back in, sometimes even sprinkling the congregation.

    That's an interesting development and may lead to asperging???

    As to timing - the APBA 2nd Order normally has confession before the Gloria and the readings. Otherwise in Lent and Advent, when it comes just after Humble Access.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    All of which reminds me of a story about a Russian priest who didn't have time to hear confessions for his large flock, so he told them to shout their sins into the wind, and God would hear them. If they all shouted at the same time, he said, nobody would know who said what, it would just be a babble. Father John would raise his hand to signal when to stop. So they all shouted, and almost all of them stopped when the Father raised his hand. One lone voice trailed off, "...with Father John's wife."
  • @NickTamen
    Christ died for us,
    Christ rose for us,
    Christ reigns in power for us,
    Christ prays for us.

    When Christ prays for us, who is he directing his prayer to? His Father? His Mother? It would be awkward if he is praying to himself.
  • The Father, or so we are told: "Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us". (Romans 8:34-35).
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    The Father, or so we are told: "Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us". (Romans 8:34-35).
    Which is the verse from which what I quoted is drawn.

  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    c52 wrote: »
    The asterisks mark a sudden change of tone, and it's the first one that I find hard to handle. From seeing how others do it, I'd say no one has a good answer.
    Hmmm. Our pattern is similar to yours:

    Call to Worship—usually responsive
    First Hymn
    Call to Confession
    Confession
    Silence
    (Possibly a sung Kyrie)
    Assurance of Forgiveness*
    Sung Response—traditionally in my tribe, a setting of the Gloria Patri (“Glory be to the Father…”), but our congregation tends to use one verse of a hymn, which varies by week or season, and that is sometimes upbeat, sometimes contemplative, sometimes something in between.
    The Peace

    What we don’t have is a sudden change in tone; I don’t think anyone feels that, either as we move into confession or as we move out of it. We just feel the flow of the liturgy. I wonder if the change in tone you feel has less to do with the words and more to do with the demeanor or tone of voice of the worship leader.

    * That said, what we would say as the Assurance of Forgiveness is somewhat different from an Anglican-style absolution. What we would hear is more like this:
    Hear the good news!

    Who is in a position to condemn?
    Only Christ, and Christ died for us,
    Christ rose for us,
    Christ reigns in power for us,
    Christ prays for us.

    Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation.
    The old life has gone;
    a new life has begun.

    Brothers and sisters, know that you are forgiven and be at peace.
    Perhaps that, coupled with a call to confession that focuses not on how bad we are but on how faithful and merciful God is, keeps the tone from changing too much. Maybe?

    Interestingly the part of the quote I have italicised is exactly the wording used in A New Zealand Prayer Book / He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa ... which from time to time strikes me as "somewhat different from an Anglican-style ..." but in this case seems to make a powerfully apposite declaration of forgivenness. But at any rate I digress from the OP.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    It is normally billed Assurance of Pardon in Reformed circles although many clerics would maintain that they can give absolution

    Technically the assurance of pardon is a reiteration of biblical passages such as the pairing
    taken from the Second order of Communion in Worship from the URC
    Jesus said, ‘Your sins are forgiven’.

    He also said, ‘Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother’.

    I dislike it because the first is a specific instance that cannot be applied in a generalised form to mean everyone's sins are forgiven but note the difficulty of finding passages.

    I would prefer the adaptation from order 4
    In repentance and in faith
    receive the promise of grace
    and the assurance of pardon.
    Here are words you may trust,
    words that merit full acceptance:
    ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’
    Your sins are forgiven for his sake.

    Yet this is straying closer to absolution with the words at the end. A bold simple statement that those their sins are forgiven would be unusual but not impossible. What I was clearly trained out of was confession without assurance of pardon or absolution.
  • I take your point about the Order 4 version almost straying into absolution. Of course it isn't the person leading the service who is actually "absolving". What s/he is doing (as I'm sure you know) is directing congregants' attention to words of Scripture which imply forgiveness. If I were using this form of words, however, I'd amend it slightly to remove any sense of "me" absolving "them" in a priestly manner - i.e. "In repentance and faith, we receive the promise ..." and "Here are words in which we may trust ...".
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Technically, at least in Lutheran liturgies, the Order of Confession is a separate rite from the Mass. Our hymnals will have the rubric saying the following (Order of Confession) may be included in the service. It only becomes a should during seasons of penance. However, I think most Lutherans would think something was missing if they did not have it at the beginning of the service.
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