Excerpts from pgs 122-125 shared by Roger at the end of the third session at Scargill
We can now yield to the good temptation of better things. Being able to be frank with God and others about our wrongs, failures, sins, faults and other shameful secrets does justice to the nature of the universe we live in, a place where good things can quickly become perverted or polluted, and where evil things can be healed and restored. Through confession, we stop deluding ourselves about being cosy residents of a status. In a status mindset, we say ‘I’m a good person.’ This can be a pretty slippery place to stand, because it can lead us to say, ‘I am very proud to be a good person,’ which can then lead us to become proud, which generally means we are no longer such a good person. And sadly, we are generally the last to know because we are still enthusiastically congratulating ourselves – against increasing evidence – on our status as a good person.
Confession replaces a status mindset with a becoming mindset, a way of thinking that proves much less susceptible to self-delusion and self-limitation. Tutored in the simple word sorry, I remember that whatever I was yesterday, I could be something different tomorrow, for better or worse. When I habitually confess my secrets and express my regrets to God over things I have done, I am able to cut the umbilical cord between the me who confesses and the me who did the thing I’m confessing. I’m acknowledging that I am already different from that person, because I am not denying what I did, and I am not defending it or excusing it. I’m saying, ‘I no longer want to be the kind of person who does those things, nor do I want to be the kind of person who covers up doing those things’. I want to become a different kind of person.’
Without the discipline of communal confession, religions can switch sides as Peter did in the Gospel story (Matt. 16:13ff.), speaking through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit one minute, and through an unholy spirit the next, being called a rock one minute, and a stumbling-block the next.
So confession, because it is directed first and foremost towards God, helps us affirm the truth of our own becoming – helping us become better and sweeter and humbler, not worse and bitter and more arrogant. And no less important, it also helps us affirm the truth about God: that God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, full of mercy, faithful and just, forgiving sin and cleansing us from all that is wrong with us, eager to lead us from darkness into light.