Looking at Lent: Balancing Confession and Praise


Too wet! With rain falling almost all winter, Bear Creek surges over its swollen banks. That reminds me of the difficulty I too have with balance. God calls us to confess and to praise. How do I balance the two each day?

In 1993, I walked into Westminster Abbey for the first time. With my neck arched to take in those amazing stained glass windows, praise and worship overtook me.

A few days later, Dave and I toured St. Paul’s Cathedral.  At noon, one of the rectors climbed to the right pulpit and asked everyone to simply stop. “Please stand, sit, or kneel and pray the Lord’s Prayer in your own language. ”

The air exploded with a variety of languages. Now, confession, not praise, overwhelmed my heart. Pentecost flashed through my head! Each of those two houses of worship drew me to aspects of worship that are hard to balance: confession and praise.

In the Old Testament temple, the stench of blood, and the bleating of dying animals mingled with the acrid wafts of burning incense. What a visceral reminder of personal sins! What sensory signs or images in modern American churches even nudge me to confess my sins before a holy God? I love the overwhelming beauty of a sanctuary; it calls forth my praise and adoration to the God of heaven and earth. I must search harder for cues that prompt me to confession. Quietness, sitting still before the Lord,  allows me to confront my sins, those I commit in thoughts, words and deeds.

During Lent this year I desire to offer genuine praise to God for the specifics of each day’s common graces. To guide me, I have returned to using a hymnal for my devotions, playing and singing  –m savoring the richness of both  words and music.  In the realm of confession, I long to have this become as natural as praise. I start my journey with C.S. Lewis’ words: “The Christian  has a great advantage over other men, not by being less fallen than they, nor less doomed to live in a fallen world, but by knowing that he is a fallen man in a fallen world.”

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