Private Confession - What is it?


Last week I began to talk about Private Confession. I made a defense for it. But one thing I did not do was to explain what it is. In plain words Martin Luther writes, “Private confession has two parts. First, we make a personal confession of sins to the pastor, and then we receive absolution, which means forgiveness as from God himself. This absolution we should not doubt, but firmly believe that thereby our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.”

So you might be asking, does our Pastor hear Private Confessions? When and how do I go about taking advantage of it? And do Lutherans use Confessional booths?

These are all good questions. Let me answer them one at a time. Yes, most emphatically, I am committed to hearing Confessions! I have in the past, and will continue to hear them in the future. And I take advantage of Private Confession myself, at least four times a year.

The way you go about it is to meet with me. If possible I prefer to hear confessions at the church. It never hurts to call ahead to see if I am at church, and if not when I can meet you there. When you call to make an appointment you can just say you would like to meet with me, whether or not you tell me ahead of time it is for Confession.

And lastly, as you have noticed we do not have booths. I like to sit before the altar, or if more privacy is needed, before a cross in a room. Your privacy is important. I am bound by confidentiality. It is nobody’s business, not only what you confess, but even that you made confession at all!

In the coming weeks I will write further concerning the kind of sins that should be confessed, along with the way that confession can be made and how we can be assured of forgiveness. So please stay tuned.

Since You Asked…

What is meant by the term “liturgy”? (from the Greek, “work of the people”): more than a set form of service or one particular service, the liturgy is the whole body of texts and music used for the worship of God. The Lutheran Book of Worship is the liturgy of many Lutheran churches in North America.  (from “Manual on the Liturgy” companion to the LBW, from Augsburg Pub.)

Our Lutheran liturgy involves the participation of all who are gathered: clergy, laity, and worship leaders along with the rest of the congregation. Worship is not a spectator sport. It is an act of reverence, and of offering praise and thanksgiving to our Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Liturgical worship helps us to share in this act.