Christian worship offers us a sense of proportionality. Perhaps in your Christian walk you may have asked, “How much time should I give to confession, how much time to rejoicing, how much time to meditating on my sins, how much time to meditating on the victory of Jesus over my sin? Questions like these demonstrate that we long to orchestrate life in a faithful way, so that we do not over-stress one element over the other. We don’t want to over-do one area, while neglecting the other.
This is why Covenant Renewal Worship is helpful. It gives us a sense of proportion. While certain worship paradigms provide for us a wholly sin-confession oriented service, the pattern of the Bible indicates that worship and life need to be carefully structured. If you spend too much time focusing on your sins, you will neglect the resurrection’s message of forgiveness from your sins. On the other hand, you may become too triumphalistic, therefore neglecting the importance of repentance and confession of sins.
In worship there is time for confession proper; that is, a set-aside time to kneel and repent of your sins corporately and individually. This is done so that we may cleanse our hearts and minds before God anoints us with Word and Sacrament. That is confession proper; formal confession of sins.
Children know this well in their day to day affair. They need to be cleansed before they can enjoy a meal. But if they spend most of their time cleansing themselves, or if they spend the same amount of time cleansing than they do enjoying or learning, we would say that this is a disproportionate use of their time. Washing oneself is crucial and cannot be absent, but we wash so we may learn and live life with joy.
Does that mean then that I can no longer confess my sins throughout the service? Absolutely not. If something hits you with great force during a sermon, confess then. But what you must understand is that after our confession of sins corporately, we move into a time of corporate celebration. It is a time when God builds us up through His divine Word and the elements of bread and wine. And this takes considerably more time in our worship than confession. This is the case because the celebration of Messiah’s victory over death has a more prominent role in the worship of God.
We can say then, that while Christ has called us to confess our sins for a short time, we ought not to dwell there for most of the time. We are living under the empty tomb era of human history. We ought not to be triumphalistic, but we are to be triumphant Christians knowing that our Lord has conquered death and hell, and has established a people and a kingdom where righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit are abundant.
So, on this day, confess well, but then rejoice greatly for the God of our salvation calls us into this presence.