A friend and I were chatting a while back about life: folks’ business, people’s brokenness, the church’s anemic faith and action. The idea of corporate confession has been percolating in my mind for a while. In my experience, if confession is discussed, it’s in regards to an individual aspect: confess your private, individual sins; repent and turn your Self. But the Hebrew culture didn’t seem to have this focus on the individual; they seemed to be more community-oriented. If a person sinned, it didn’t just affect them: the whole group could/would be smoted (I’m sure that’s a word). So what would it look like to have a corporate confession?
Why would such a thing be necessary? A while ago I was reading books by Leanne Payne, and she talked about confessing the sins of ancestors: that the sins of our parents/grandparents/great-grandparents get passed down from generation to generation, and even though the younger generations didn’t directly participate in the sin, the effects are still present. I thought that was CrazyTalk, until one day I realized I had derogatory thoughts in my head in regards to race. My family is from the South, and I know I heard my grandparents make hurtful, racial remarks. I was raised up North: I wasn’t in that environment and shouldn’t have those thoughts! And yet . . . Suddenly the idea of repenting made a lot more sense.
The Church has committed some horrid sins – intentionally or unintentionally. And whether we were physically present or participating, that history is our history – my history. It needs to stop: I want to turn – I hope we want to turn. But what would that look like?
Reading Leviticus (because I’m weird like that) has revealed just how much of a rhythm of life the Israelites followed. The Israelites had a time of corporate confession, a season when they would realize just how unholy they were, how holy God was, and how wonderful it was that God provided a way that they could be in a redeeming relationship. But they didn’t live always in this period of confessing. This season was part of their rhythm of life: it wasn’t just a sermon series thrown in randomly when the Levites felt like it, nor did they get stuck in repenting all the time.
A book I read for my class talked about how liturgy is a spiritual tool to fight the infestation of consumerism in the church: instead of taking to meet my desires, I participate with others in times of feasting, repenting, and living in the ordinary life.
Some evangelical churches are more intentional or vocal about living in a rhythm of life. Have you seen examples? Do you have any book recommendations (or books you could loan) for further exploration (cause I have to read some good ones for class and I’d rather read something other people dug than find a flop on my own)? Do you find yourself living into the season – individually or corporately?