She grabbed the communion goblet with both hands, wrestling it awkwardly out of the officiant’s hands, and took a big gulp. Her teenage daughter followed suit.
This happened recently as some friends and I had gathered for a church service before a preaching conference.
After we had lots of laughs over their “mistake” of not practicing intinction (dipping the bread in the juice), it struck me that perhaps they just needed a little more of the cleansing blood that day. A little more Jesus.
In my tradition (Churches of Christ), the time for confessing when you need a little more Jesus has mostly passed. In fact we don’t really confess much other than our beliefs. I wonder sometimes if the lack of confession (of sins) is perhaps less about rejecting priests, and more about maintaining appearances. Because we’ve bought into the notion that our outward appearance is a reflection of our inward disposition. So if we shower, put on our “Sunday best,” and watch our language, people will think we’re strong in our faith and convictions, with just some “minor” sins sprinkled in because, hey—nobody’s perfect.
But if we really wore our sins on the outside, if we were willing to confess the ugliness that lies within, what then? Would we be labeled, judged, and rejected?
Perhaps if everyone was willing, we would come to find that we all have ugliness inside of us that no amount of scrubbing on the outside will cleanse.
And perhaps, if we wore our sins on the outside, we would start behaving as if we really believe that Jesus’s blood is the only thing that can cleanse us. And maybe then we would be the ones grabbing that goblet and gulping down the blood of Christ so that we could be once again washed from the inside out.
May God forgive us for hiding our shortcomings, and judging others who are brave enough to admit theirs. May we cultivate spaces where confession is safe, welcomed, and a means of healing.
Have you experienced confession working in a healthy way? Share here so we can encourage one another and creatively consider how we might cultivate such spaces.