Confession and Liturgy
Our liturgy follows a very simple structure. Call to Worship, Confession of Sin, Consecration to God, Communion, Commission.
Why does Confession of Sin come where it does? It’s important that it comes after the Call to Worship. We want to remember that we only come into God’s presence because he has invited us. He was summoned us to his throne, and therefore we can boldly approach. Christian worship is initiated by God. We are responding to his call.
Why do we do it before the rest? During the confession of sin, we acknowledge our iniquity and seek God’s mercy. We humble ourselves under his hand in order that he might lift us up. We want God to lift us up; we want to draw near to him so that we can be changed as we sing to him, as we pray to him, and as we hear his word preached. But that transformation will be hindered if our consciences are seared by sin. We won’t hear well. The sword of the word will not cut us to the quick, because our hearts are not prepared to hear it. And so we confess our sins and ask God to cleanse us and our consciences so that we might hear the word.
We also confess our sins before communion. God is inviting us to fellowship with him, to feast with him, and when you’re invited to eat with the King of Glory, you want to be clean. God says, “Come and eat.” And we say, “We would like to be clean first. All we have are these dirty clothes.” And God says, “I will clothe you. Put on the Lord Jesus. Clothe yourself with him and his deeds. He will be your covering. Now come and eat.” Communion is a meal of joy and life when we come to God cleansed of our sins.
And confession is vital for commission as well. Guilt kills mission. Guilt crushes our souls. It makes us anxious. It makes us easily manipulated. It kills boldness and love and sacrifice. A guilty conscience is too worried about being exposed and shamed to offer the good news of Christ to a lost world. And so we confess our sins every week for the sake of our mission.
God has called us into his presence. In a moment, he will set us apart for his service, transforming us through the songs, prayers, and preaching of his word. He will invite us to celebrate with great joy at the Lord’s Table. And then he will send us from this place to be the light of the world. And all of this reminds us of our need to confess our sins.
Prayer of Confession
Almighty and most merciful Father;
We have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against your holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us.
We confess, O God, that these are great evils.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we are miserable offenders.
Meet us here, at the beginning of our services, and cleanse us from our sin. We know that if we in the church regard sin in our own midst, our prayers will be ineffectual, so we confess our individual sins to you now.
Father, we thank you for the mercy you give us in Christ. Assure us of that mercy now so that we might boldly approach your throne with loud singing. Cleanse our consciences that your word might take root in our hearts. Receive us in Jesus’s name that we might eat and drink with him. And then send us from this place, free to love and sacrifice and announce the good news of Jesus. In whose name we pray, Amen.