Advent Confession: Hope

Art by Martin French

Art by Martin French

By Jeff Marsh, Confession by Raeben Nolan

The following Confession was part of Imago Dei’s Sunday service on 12/04/16 at our Central City Campus.

In a moment, I’m going to ask you to read a confession with me. You may have recognized that we do this regularly on a weekly basis. This morning, I want to address why we do it.

Each week, we organize this service around a liturgy, the things we do to organize around the Gospel: The word of God, recognizing that God has spoken to us. The offering, recognizing that everything we have comes from God. This table here; the body and blood of Christ broken for us. And confession.

How does confession help us to remain in the Gospel? How does it tell that story? Many of us walk in here, week in and week out, and one of the things we carry is this really deep fear or feeling that God really isn’t interested in us because we’re not good enough. Maybe the people around us are, but not us. We know we are weak. We know we are not perfect. Confession is where we get to dive into that, and we recognize that, yes, it’s true. We are not good enough; we are not perfect. And that’s exactly the point.

The Gospel tells us that our relationship with God is not based on our own goodness but on His. So confession is really freedom. It’s the freedom to recognize that we aren’t good enough, but we can draw near to God because of the righteousness He has given in Christ.

The book of 1 John tells us that when we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And with that, I’m just going to ask you to join me in this reading:

Infinite God of infinite hope, We confess that we built our house not on the solid rock of Christ, but on the shifting sands of a false-hope foundation. We also rejected Christ as our cornerstone, of whom it has been said: All who believe in Him shall not be disappointed. But we have rejected Him for the false hope of security, and when the guns can’t protect and the markets crash; when the doctors can’t heal, we are left in turmoil and despair. 
We have set up a straw man, called him leader, put our hopes in a strong economy and militarized peace. Called him lover, put our hopes in the warm bed of acceptance and affection. Called him pastor, put our hope in his church to fill our souls. Called him gift-giver, put our hope in all the fine things we surely deserve. And then when the straw man falls down, when the leaders and lovers and pastors fail, And gifts don’t arrive as expected, we curse God and we weep for our lost hopes. 
Lord, we confess that we have created a false image of hope, and we have confused its gilded image with Your character. We trusted in the political system to bring justice, and it has failed. We have trusted in the financial systems to bring us security, and it has failed. We’ve trusted in money to give us contentment, and it has failed. We’ve trusted in people to meet our need for love, and they too have failed. We’ve trusted in our own goodness to save us, and it is not enough.
For the Lord says, “I am your hope”, and delivered you out of bondage to your false hopes. “Have no other hope before me. Do not create idols of false hope in your heart or in the world. Do not slander my name by confusing it with your false hopes and desires.” Oh Wellspring of True Hope, plant the root of our hearts upstream; that when all other hopes dry up and whither, we may be nourished by hope unseen.