“When someone like me, who will go to superhero lengths to avoid the truth, runs out of options-when I am found out or too exhausted to pretend anymore or maybe just confronted by my sister-it feels like the truth might crush me. And that is right. The truth does crush us, but the instant it crushes us, it somehow puts us back together into something honest. It’s death and resurrection every time it happens.
This, to me, is the point of the confession and absolution in the liturgy. When I first experience it-the part where everyone in church stands up and says what bad people they are, and the pastor, from the distance of the chancel and the purity of her white robe says, “God forgives you”-I thought it was hogwash. Why should I care if someone says to me that some God I may or may not really believe in has erased the check marks against me for things I may or may not even think are so-called sins? This obviously is the problem with religion for many: It makes you feel bad enough that you will need the religion to help you feel good again.
But eventually the confession and absolution liturgy came to mean everything to me. It gradually began to feel like a moment when truth was spoken, perhaps for the only time all week, and it would crush me and then put me back together.
And the pastor said, “Fear not, brothers and sisters, God, who is full of grace and abounding in steadfast love, meets us in our sin and transforms us for God’s glory and the healing of God’s world. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, your sins are forgiven, be now at peace.” Exhale.
-Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix