Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dear Readers,

My list server went down and most of my contact list was lost. They recovered some of it, but in recent months due to the losses, my list fell from 3,000 to about 400. If you know of someone who would enjoy getting this weekly newsletter, could you please forward it? Thank you.

I’m behind in mailing out the columns and since we’re finishing the series on spiritual disciplines, I’ll mail three over the next week to catch up. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Loook at the following two bits of news, then read “Confession ~ Good for the Soul.”


My books are now in many stores:

LifeWay Christian Stores, Mardel Christian Stores, Parable and Family Christian Stores. If you are in the market for one of these, I’d appreciate your shopping in a local store for them. Thank you:

• A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts ~ Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday

• The Stained Glass Pickup.


Cathy’s Christmas one-hour radio Interview: re-airing November 27, 8:00 a.m. Central time.

To listen click this link and and click "listen now" on the left-hand side.

Confession – Good for the Soul

Author Darryl Tippens tells the following stories about confession. He and his wife Anne were invited to a local synagogue for Yom Kippur. This is the holy Day of Atonement when Jewish worshipers seek God’s forgiveness. During the service the rabbi invited the congregants to also consider their sins against any in the community and afterwards to go and apologize to that person.

As you read the rest of these stories, keep in mind these two scriptures about confession of sin: a prayer to God, “Heal my soul, for I have sinned against you” (Psalm 41:4), an entreaty, “Confess your sins one to another, and pray for one another that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

In addition to seeking God’s forgiveness on Yom Kippur, the rabbi did something Tippens was not expecting. He asked each person to turn to their neighbor and confess their wrongs, asking for forgiveness. As a Gentile visitor, Tippens thought he’d get a pass. He didn’t think he had offended anyone on their church rolls. Then his wife Anne turned to him with shimmering eyes and asked, “Will you forgive me for all the times I’ve hurt you?”

Inwardly, he knew he should have first asked her forgiveness. “Feebly,” he answered, “Yes, I forgive you. Will you forgive me, too?” Tippens said that in his decades of church services, no minister or worship leader had ever asked him to confess his wrongs “in front of God and everybody.” He found a deeper awareness of confession and had his own Day of Atonement in the synagogue.

Tippens’ story is in his book, “Pilgrim Heart – the Way of Jesus in Everyday Life.” In presentations, he sometimes tells about his experience on Yom Kippur. After one such telling, an audience member related a similar experience. “William” and his family had been invited to an Eastern Orthodox Church and the day they attended was the day the church practiced the rite of “Mutual Forgiveness.” William, his wife, and two year old daughter watched as the priest, the leader, bowed before the congregation, his face to the floor and named his sins aloud and asked for God’s and the congregation’s forgiveness.

Then the congregation of about 150 arranged themselves into a large double circle, half the group was on the outside facing in, and the other group stood inside facing outward. This allowed congregants to rotate and confess their sins and seek forgiveness from fellow worshipers. The double circle revolved and each person got on their knees and confessed asking forgiveness of the next person and the next. Occasionally, a confessor grasped the feet of the person he had wronged and sought forgiveness. William and his wife participated as their two year old daughter walked quietly beside them and watched.

William said it was humbling, exhausting, exhilarating, and cleansing. Near the very end when the congregants had gone full circle. Their two-year-old daughter, who had been very quiet, knelt down on the floor in front of her mother’s feet. Taking hold of her ankles, she placed her little face near the floor. For this young couple, it was the crowning moment of the day, to know that in the future as they confessed and sought each other’s forgiveness, that God would open a door for this tiny daughter to embrace confession and forgiveness.

Many weekly church liturgies incorporate a time when the congregation asks aloud seeking God’s forgiveness, but not all Protestant churches include such a time. More could be written about confession, but more powerful than reading about it is the doing of it. Dependant upon personal misdeeds, it may be appropriate today to seek a store clerk’s forgiveness, a car mechanic’s, the postman’s, your husband’s your wife’s or your child’s. When we confess and seek forgiveness, we foster Christian charity among our community of contacts.

Before you confess to others, the psalmist’s prayer to a loving Father is a blessed place to begin, “Heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.”

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