Rev. Frank Senn
Versicle. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.
Response. And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
Older generations (pre-Lutheran Book of Worship) will remember Psalm 32:5b from the Order for Confession of Sins that preceded The Service in the Lutheran Common Service.
This was a favorite psalm of both Augustine of Hippo and Martin Luther. It is listed among the seven penitential psalms. But it is really a psalm of thanksgiving that looks back on the confession of sins the psalmist has made to God and the sense of relief that confessing one’s sins has brought to the forgiven sinner. No wonder Christians like Augustine and Luther, whose consciences were afflicted by acute awareness of their sins, liked this psalm. It is realistic about the afflictions of a guilty conscious and the blessing that comes from acknowledging one’s transgressions to God. The psalmist no longer hides from God but hides in God, embraced by the grace of God’s forgiveness and God’s instruction in the way we should go.
Our way is not sinlessness; that is not our human condition. Our way is honesty before God about our condition. As we hear in 1 John 1:8—9, cited in the Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness in the LBW, “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 our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Lord God … we are your prodigal children, but we come back to you confessing our sins. Embrace us, that we may rejoice in your mercy, through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Prayer from the Psalm 32 Collect in the LBW Ministers Edition, p. 359)