See, Speak, Hear No Evil

A Sunday Psalm of Confession of our Goodness and Brokenness

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Confession is difficult. It’s an act of vulnerability. To paraphrase the Miranda Rights statement: We remain silent because anything we say can and will be used against us in the court of life. If I confess my wrongs or weaknesses, you–or God–may use them against me. I become vulnerable, at the mercy of, to whomever I’ve confessed to.

But God promises not to use our confession against us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV). Later in his letter John assures us “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” (1 John 4:18 NIV). God’s perfect love for us shown through Christ’s death promises redemption not imprisonment.

Another reason confession is unpopular is we know only its negative meaning. To admit a wrong. But the word alone simply means to declare or assent or even to agree with. Therefore, to confess can mean to assent to God’s love for us. To agree with God’s view of us. This psalm of confession contains both meanings: confession of being created “very good” by God and being very bent or needy when estranged from God. May this prayer bring you forgiveness and wholeness.

Giver of Life:

You are the vine and we are the branches. You made us fearfully and wonderfully.

You breathed life in us and pronounced us “very good.”

Thank you for giving our lives purpose and meaning.

You are more precious even than the air we breathe.

We praise you for creating and sustaining us.

And because you created us, there is no secret we can hide from you. 

Our sins that have darkened our hearts and minds you have already named and accounted for in Christ’s sacrifice.

Broken Branch

Yet, even while planted and rooted in your love, we have broken our branch free from your vine.

We have come to believe we can support and justify our own lives.

To bolster this untruth, we paint false fruit on our withering branches and stand tall as our roots shrivel in thirst for you.

Forgive us for pretending as if we don’t need you every moment of every day.

Forgive us for producing little if any fruit that reflects your glory and goodness. 

You chose us out of your mercy and grace and we have believed we deserved it. We confess we do not deserve your love but we desperately desire it.

Hayman Fire

Graft us back onto your vine.

Bury our roots once more in your soil.

Let our branches once again produce the fruit of the Spirit.

May our lives once again bring the shade and protection of your peace to our world. 

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

9 thoughts on “A Sunday Psalm of Confession of our Goodness and Brokenness”

  1. Georgie Ann Kettig

    very beautiful,…

    it seems that Lent can be a time for psychologically/spiritually doing something like what we do (“automatically”) when we “clean our glasses”!,…

    the “problem” is “something” (not our real self!) that ever so easily and surreptitiously is able to attach itself to us, “dulling our experience” and “blurring our vision”,…

    1. Good metaphor. The thing I learned the first time I fully participated in Lent was that if what I fasted from and feasted on in Lent was good and beautiful and deepened my relationship with God, then why only do it for six weeks? We should “clean our glasses” year round!

  2. David Donaldson, PhD

    So is confession equivalent to self-revelation? Does God confess? Does He declare or assent or agree with? Is confession intimacy? Reciprocal? Lovers at play?

    I like what you suggest. It is an antidote to the stereotypical, neurosis-generating posture of self-abnegation. But so much better than that: it leads to joyous engagement.

    1. Hello, David. Good to “hear you voice”! Yes, but maybe confession is a step farther than self-revelation. Self-revelation is inward focused while confession is speaking the truth of that self-revelation out loud and to God. I like that picture of lovers at play. The Trinity speaking and agreeing with the beauty and glory of the Others. Hard to articulate without separating the Three. Is this confession when Jesus talks about the Father and Spirit and when the Spirit descends and the Father speak back? If confession is agreement and assent, then yes.

      I have found confession very intimate in my own marriage and with God. The distance created in both relationships by being out of sync or disconnected kills intimacy.

      I like to think of this tension between our bent natures and God creating us good as two sides of the cross. There is the old, rugged side that we know and sing of so well. Our sin is ugly and cost Jesus his life. But then there is the beautifully crafted side of the cross, like a fine piece of furniture sanded, worked, and polished by loving hands. This side represents our beauty in creation. God declaring us very good. This is the side that drew Jesus to be nailed to the rugged cross.This is the front side of the cross that represents what we are becoming. We are not going back to the created state in the garden but being redeemed and made into a new creation that somehow incorporates both of our natures. We need to see the whole cross and not only the rugged side. I believe confession should contain both truths. And it does lead to joy!

  3. Steve Kuethe

    Hi Eugene,
    The whole prayer seems right on the mark, and I enjoyed all of it. This part struck me:
    re: “Let our branches once again produce the fruit of the Spirit.”
    Eugene Peterson points out, how the visible starts with the invisible. And then he looks at the Spirit’s work in the beginning of creation, the beginning of salvation, and the beginning of the church…
    Indeed, prior to my new life in Christ, it seems the Spirit was doing oddly obvious things left and right to save me. Now, I’m not hanging out near the precipice, and perhaps I’m more used to God’s obvious goings on (God Sightings as you call them). But I fear the real reason I’m seeing less of the Spirit’s obvious work is that I’m not taking the chances in declaring that “the Kingdom of God is available, right here, right now” that the disciples did. Perhaps I could see the beautiful wonder of the Spirit’s work more frequently if I were hanging out at the precipice of others salvation! Dear God, please show me what you are up to, so I can come join in what your are doing!

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