Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wednesday in Pentecost, Proper 13: The help of private confession

Opening Sentence
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in you sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Commemoration: Dominic
O God of the prophets, who opened the eyes of your servant Dominic to perceive a famine of hearing the word of the Lord, and moved him, and those he drew about him, to satisfy that hunger with sound preaching and fervent devotion: Make your Church, dear Lord, in this and every age, attentive to the hungers of the world, and quick to respond in love to those who are perishing; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 81, 82

Lessons: Judges 7:19-8:12Acts 3:12-26John 1:29-42

Martin Luther, as he himself often acknowledged, could not do his work as a preacher and theologian by himself alone. It would have become too heavy for him. He needed the help of private confession. He is speaking from his own personal experience when in the Smalcald Articles he speaks of "the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren" as a particular divine means of grace. "I know what comfort and strength private confession has given me. Nobody who has not fought often and long with the devil knows what it can do. I would long since have been strangled by the devil if I had not kept confession." It is very remarkable that we pastors and theologians, at least the majority of us, have apparently been able to get along without private confession for two centuries. But who would seriously assert that we have not suffered from its loss? Therefore, a vital contribution to a renewal of the ministry will be that we begin again to take seriously the good, inherited practice of private confession wherever this is possible and, beyond this, seek new ways of developing ordered brotherly confession.

Martin Dorne

Sweet Hour of Prayer