All are welcome

Confess! (Who Are You?)

Offered Sunday Morning, 9 November 2014 by Tamara Franks

Confess.[1]

Integrity

Does your behavior match your belief?

Do you say one thing and do another?

Know Thyself?

Who are you?   A person of your word or a person full of lots of words but little action backing up those words?

Confess.

I confess that as I was preparing for this morning, I wondered multiple times, “What were you thinking choosing this word to explore?”

Know Thyself. Our early philosophers, Plato, Socrates, Peter Abelard in early church history, all pointed toward the necessity of knowing and understanding yourself.

  • Why do you react the way that you do?
  • Why do you respond to certain people the way that you do?
  • What are your intentions behind your actions? Patronage? True Love? Guilt? Fear?

When I hear “Confess” my normal reaction or picture conjured up is that person confessing their sins to a priest. But, this picture significantly limits Confess.

  • Confess who you are through naming your values, beliefs, failures, dreams, visions
  • Confess in your credo what you believe
  • Confess to your friend your failure to meet their needs or even that you realize that you have harmed them seeking to find out how you can make amends with them
  • Confess your fears
  • Confess your addiction and your failure to stay clean

Confess is telling your story in all truth, meaning and purpose.

Confess is naming your intentions behind your actions.

Question. Is Confession a solo or a community activity?

Do you confess only to God, to Creation, to something out there asking for forgiveness and believing that because you named it and asked for forgiveness that all is better now?

Do you believe in the power of the community to help support and hold you accountable? In this capacity we confess to that small group of trusted, safe, circle of people whom you know 100% of the time want you to succeed. Your confession is heard, possibly questioned and truly supported because your behavior change matches your confession because you know that this trusted circle will “call you on it.”

Confess is accountability. Naming. Being a person of integrity. Understanding yourself well enough to know when you are blaming another or making excuses for your actions.

For me the extreme challenge goes back to Know Thyself. What are your motivations and or intentions behind the actions?

CS Lewis writes……..

Do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love [them.] If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking [them] more. If you do them a good turn, you will find yourself disliking [them] less. There is indeed, one exception. If you do them a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show [them] what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put [them] in your debt, and then sit down to wait for their ‘gratitude,’ you will probably be disappointed. (People are not fools: they have a very quick eye for anything like showing off, or patronage.) But whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more or, at least to dislike it less.”[2]

Sounds good. Nothing so far that I have offered or reflected is new. We know this.

And here is the question for me as I reflected and prayed this week, “Why God, did this word, “Confess,” get on the calendar for this week? Could you have NOT reminded me that this would be the week of our national elections?”

The trickster God is chuckling right now I do believe.

Confess by its very definition is about relationship. To confess means you are talking to another. The challenge is truth, honesty, integrity and ownership.

If I am so disgusted by the present state of the lack of civil discourse in our country, what I am willing to do about it? Am I willing to call up my opposing neighbor for a conversation where I will, 100%, listen to them?

Am I willing to sit down with the opposition at all?

Am I willing to confess, which means that I will change my actions, that I get caught up in the labels liberal, moderate, conservative and forget “child of God,” “Human,” and “Created in the image of God”?

If I expect true bipartisanship within our government so that somehow we can move ahead, create policy and laws that work toward immigration reform, creating a more stable economy and in general attempting to work together, Am I even willing to engage my fellow clergy here in the High Country?

Tuesday morning, the National Council of Churches hosted a Clergy Breakfast to discuss Immigration Reform. Rev. Cindy Banks, the Episcopal Priest here in town asked us to consider the very real hard question of “Can we sit down with our opposing clergy brothers and sisters and say, ‘Can we talk about this? Can we disagree and still respect one another?’”

She said, “If we expect our national government to once again enter into civil discourse, can we not begin it right here at home with our churches in this area? Are we even willing to sit down moderate with conservative, liberal with conservative attempting to engage one another in civil discourse?”

If we aren’t willing to do this, in our communities of faith, how can we ever hope for our national government to do this?

If we want the divide in our lands to somehow lessen, to move back together, we have to lead this effort by our own Confessions of belief enacted through our behaviors.

I confess to you that this is scary which means I often shy away from this conflict.

I confess to you that I am disgusted with the majority of our political leaders, which means I have disengaged.

I confess to you that I at times loose my hope and my faith in the system, which also means that I have often disengaged or been led by inappropriate motivations or intentions.

Here is what I know……..

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not have been near the influence he was if no one had confessed his or her own allegiance, belief and faith in what his vision was…

Rev. Dr. William Barber, II would not have been near the influence he was and is if no one had confessed their own agreement of beliefs regarding the necessity to reclaim our own morality not just as people of faith, people of God, but as humans respecting the need of dignity for all ……

We will only begin to move forward when folks like me and you confess our complicity to allowing the gap of civility to widen by our own anger, frustration and hate.

Confess is BOTH Word and Deed. Confess is just a bunch of words spilled out if there is no action backing up the words.

We will only begin to bring respect back into our politics, once again creating fertile soil for civil discourse, dialogue and solution finding when we confess our own accountability for creating these breakdowns as we ourselves disengage, walk away from the table refusing to listen to anything the other has to say and/or refuse any type of relationship that doesn’t meet our expectations.

I confess to you that in conversations with a handful of fellow clergy, I am beginning the long road towards civil discourse.

What are you willing to confess?

Who are you?

Who do you Know Yourself to be?

Confess is making sure that your Yes is yes and that your No is No.

Confess is knowing that your actions speak louder than words.

Confess is going to your brother, your sister, your spouse, your child, your neighbor and naming how you have created the divide and seeking resolution together,

Creating a solution that honors both of you AND THEN doing the hard work of following through – being that person of integrity.

Challenging.

Hard.

Necessary.

Who do You Confess to Be?

[1] Much of these ideas, reflections, questions and thoughts came from reading Chapter 3 “Confess!” found within Never Pray Again written by Aric Clark, Doug Hagler and Nick Larson.

[2] Lews, C.S. Mere Christianity, (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2009), chapter 9.