It is said that “Confession is good for the soul.” As Christians we know this is true, because confession of sin is necessary for receiving forgiveness and salvation from God. But if confession is good for the individual, what role does corporate confession play for the community, for the church as a whole? When Nehemiah heard about the plight of his fellow Jews who had returned to Jerusalem, he cried out to God with a broken heart:
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.” (Neh. 1:5-7, NIV)
He saw the gap between God’s holiness and Israel’s sinfulness, but he also relied on God’s “covenant of love” as the basis of hope. And so he boldly confessed – not just his own sin – but that of his ancestors and the entire Jewish nation.
Brothers and sisters, we need to do the same. As the Churches of God, General Conference, we need to acknowledge where we have “missed the mark” and failed as God’s people. We are embarking on a new vision as a denominational family, so let us begin by addressing and acknowledging how we have gone astray.