Sinners

Sinners

"I know my transgressions; my sin is ever before me." - Psalm 51:3

One Columbus Day weekend, the prayer of confession lumped us all in with the Conquistadors: "Oh God," we declared in unison, "we have enslaved your people and raped your land." Another time we had to say sorry for hating our bodies. I don't treat my body as well as it deserves, but I can't honestly say I hate it. Some confessions stick in the throat.

But I love confession anyway. I don't even mind being lumped in with Conquistadors every now and then. I know my pedestrian sins are not the moral equivalent of mass murder. But I also know that, as someone once put it, over the years I've collected a lot of sewage in my heart.

Faced with huge moral choices, like whether to hide Jews from the SS, I hope I'd hide them. But I wouldn't be surprised if I turned them all in. I get Mother Teresa's reply to someone who declared her a living saint: "There's a Nazi sleeping in my soul."

I think of my sinfulness as a chronic condition—it's not a great thing to have, it flares up and causes trouble, but with treatment it's survivable. I also think that denying my human condition sets me up for worse things than run-of-the-mill sinning.

Some people find confession depressing. They want to hear that they're good, and getting better all the time. They want church to further their self-improvement projects. I'm not so keen on that. Every time becoming a better person has been my goal, pride has always been too happy to help me achieve it. That's just the way it is with us sinners.

Prayer

Have mercy on me, O God, a sinner.

About the Author
Mary Luti is Interim Senior Pastor, Wellesley Village Church, Wellesley, Massachusetts.

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