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Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
James McTyre
Lake Hills Presbyterian Church
March 21, 2004

Lent is the season for confession. I learned last week about a web site dedicated to the public airing of private confessions. It’s www.dailyconfession.com.

According to their home page,

Daily Confession.com is the only place in the world that you can go to truly confess your sin (or sins), your transgressions, your humanity, in complete anonymity.

So, let it go! Tell the whole world what you did (or didn't do.) Confess your sin (or sins) now on the world's Largest OnLine Confessional!

This isn't gossip, it's the real thing. Get ready for some amazing revelations! Confessions are updated daily.

This is where you can actually confess the sins that you would never admit to your priest, or your mother for that matter!

Each confession is shamelessly presented to the entire planet, for the WHOLE WORLD TO READ! Confess your sin (or sins) now!

As a sidebar, there’s a link to their merchandise page. There it says, “No one has to know what you confessed... but you can sure tell them where you confessed... And look good too!”

There are Daily Confessional T-Shirts, Sinner’s Covers (also known as baseball caps), Daily Confessional Underwear (appropriately enough), and (my favorite) The Time to Sin Again Wall Clock.

The actual confession page is broken down according to the 10 Commandments. If you’ve worshipped other gods, click here. If you’ve taken the Lord’s name in vain, click here. And so on. Luckily the designers of DailyConfession.com are astute enough to know that society has progressed since God gave Moses the list of 10, and so there are sub-categories and additional categories that expand the basic ten Thou Shalt Nots in some sinfully creative ways.

After a confession is posted, anyone who wants can write a response. Which is good because the silly confessions get silly responses, and the serious confessions get responses that are surprisingly serious, sometimes prayerful, and maybe even helpful.

Now. I would never encourage anyone to visit this site to read the sins that are posted. And perish the thought that your pastor would have the morbid curiosity to want to look at this material. But I was doing research.

There was a confession that went:

I confess that I am afraid of aliens. I mean they abduct cows. It’s creepy the thought of them just watching and observing us in the night.

Under the heading, “Taking the Lord’s name in vain,” was this:

Every time I get mad at my kids (who are 16, 17 and 18) I swear like a sailor!
Why do I do this? It's all just swear word after swear word. I find it so hard NOT to swear. My husband swears and has even made up some of his own.
I guess that's why. Ever since we were married in 1980, we have swore non stop.

But about every third confession is something like this:

My 16-year-old daughter is pregnant.
I have always told her that she could tell me anything and any time. I knew this could happen. I feared it happening. Now it has.
I confess that this is so much more difficult to deal with than I ever imagined.
I just needed to say this.

And this one:

I can't eat... I won't eat.
I look at the food and feel it mocking me. I confess that I’ve been throwing up on purpose just to get all of those disgusting globs of fat off of me. counting calories, reading the scale, and crying, not being able to look at the mirror.
I confess I have a problem. And I can’t stop.

Confession is serious business. Serious because when it’s taken seriously, confession unlocks the secrets of our souls. But confession is even more serious because it unlocks the door to God. God who’s always there. God who we can tell anything and any time. But until we take that step of unlocking the door, the weight of our sins are upon us, and God is waiting.


Today in scripture, we read a confession that went like this:

“Father, I [confess that I] have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”

The story of the Prodigal hinges on the act of confession. Had the younger son not (as the Bible says) “come to himself,” and made up his mind to go confess to his father, nothing would have happened. The younger son would have wasted away in the pig slop of his own making. Had the younger son not come to himself and confessed his sins, he would never have felt the overwhelming, overflowing, prodigal love of his forgiving father. “Father, forgive me. For I KNOW what I have done. And I’m not worthy to be your slave.”

At first glance, the story of your life probably doesn’t hinge on the act of confession. We usually give our wins more weight than our failures. We measure our lives by the traditional gauges – graduations, marriages, children. And the losses we push out of our minds.

We have a friend who laughs about her husband’s “Love Me Wall.” That’s what she calls it. And it’s true, most men have a “Love Me Wall.” And we’re very proud of them. It’s the wall with all the diplomas, all the awards and certificates, and all the sports trophies dating back to the second grade spelling bee. And if you ever ask us, and sometimes even when you don’t, we can tell you the stories behind every one of them. How the wicked girl with the bad teeth left out the first “c” in Antarctica and left you as the sole spelling survivor. Ah, the smell of victory.

Confession, on the other hand, isn’t a victory in the usual sense. Confession follows failure. Confession follows the humbling times that remind us that even in victory, we can’t claim credit. While we measure our lives by our achievements, God measures our lives by a different scale. We might even say that God doesn’t measure our lives at all. God knows us at our best, God knows us at our worst, and from God’s perspective, there’s probably not that much difference. God knows it’s always time for us to sin again. The question is, do we know that? Do we know that even the best of us aren’t worthy to be called God’s slaves? Do we know that God’s love doesn’t care whether we’re winners or losers? God’s love is there, waiting, like the father looking out across the wastelands to see his prodigal son stumbling home. Our lives really hinge on the confessions of truth that unlock the doors and open our eyes to God’s always waiting love.


“Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.” That’s the first confession in the story, and the one that we usually focus on. But there’s another confession, and another son. The elder son, the good boy who has stayed home and taken care of business has his confession, too. And it’s not nearly as poetic.

“Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!”

You don’t have to go online to see that there are all kinds of confessions. Some of them are noble, like that of the younger son. And some confessions, like that of the elder, are just blurted out raves against the father who never once gives us so much as a goat.

We’re good people. We go to work. We pay most of our bills and keep our credit clean enough to pay the rest. Don’t we deserve a break, too? What we often forget is that a grudge weighs as much as a cross. And sometimes we have to get so mad at God that we throw off that weight in a fit of righteous anger. And when we finally realize that we can’t make up any more swear words, in the silence that follows our spirited confession, we’re grudge-free enough to hear what the elder son did:

Son, [daughter] – you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.

God’s love is there, waiting, like the father looking out over the pettiness to see his prodigal elder son stumbling home. And again, our lives really hinge on the confessions of truth that unlock the doors and open our eyes to God’s always waiting love.


Lent is the season for confession.

In Confirmation Class a couple of weeks back, someone said, “Sometimes in church I do the Prayer of Confession, and I really have a lot to tell God about. And sometimes I just sit there. It’s like I’m not in the mood, you know?”

Yeah. I know. We all know. And God knows it, too. Sometimes we reach the point of failure, sometimes we reach the point of anger, sometimes we reach the point of joy – when there’s nothing to do but tell God about it. Whether we cry through our confessions, or shout them from a mountaintop, we tell the truth loud enough for God to hear.

And glory be to the Father, there is a response. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we are forgiven. When we unlock our hearts to that truth, we change. God comes in through an open door, instead of having to break down a wall.

They say that confession is good for the soul. They’re right. All our stories hinge on our confessions. And all our souls live on them. All our souls wait for the day when we hear the words,

“Son, daughter – you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. You were dead, but now you’ve come to life. You were lost and now have been found. So celebrate and rejoice with Me.”