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Confession and Pardon

Confession and Pardon

The call to confession is led from the font. Claiming the promises of God sealed in our baptism, we humbly confess the reality of sin in personal and common life. Water may be poured into the font.

God’s love has been poured into our hearts
through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The proof of God’s amazing love is this:
While we were sinners Christ died for us.
Because we have faith in him,
we dare to approach God in confidence.
Rom. 5:5, 8; Heb. 4:16

 Confident in God’s grace, let us confess our sin before God and one another. 

 Confession of sin is made by using a prayer, a psalm, or congregational song. Corporate confession acknowledges that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). A time of silence may be observed for personal confession.

Merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you
with our whole heart and soul
and mind and strength.

We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.

In your mercy,
forgive what we have been,
help us amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be,
so that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your holy name.

The ancient Greek prayer Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy) is a response to the confession of sin; other appropriate responses are the Trisagion (Holy God, holy and mighty) and Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). The Kyrie eleison may also be used as a sung or spoken response to the prayers of the people.

The assurance of God’s grace is declared in the name of Jesus Christ. We accept God’s forgiveness, confident that in dying to sin, Christ raises us to new life. Lifting water from the font with both hands, the minister proclaims:

Hear the good news!
Christ died for us,
Christ rose for us,
Christ reigns in power for us,
Christ prays for us.
Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation.
The old life has gone; a new life has begun.

Rom. 8:34; 2 Cor. 5:17

Believe the good news of the gospel:
In Jesus Christ you are forgiven.

Thanks be to God!

A summary of the law of God, fulfilled in Jesus Christ, points to the new life we are called to live by Christ’s grace. A spoken or sung version of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), or another exhortation to faithfulness (Col. 3:12-14, e.g.) may be included here.

Our Lord Jesus said:
You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And a second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Matt. 22:37-40

Notes adapted from Supplemental Liturgical Resource 1 (WJKP, 1984).

Excerpt from Worshiping God Together: A Guide for Children and Their Parents:

God promises always to love and forgive us — even when don’t follow God’s way, or when we do things that hurt others. Everyone makes mistakes; that is why we confess our sin together. When we confess our sin, we say that we are sorry for these things, and we ask God to forgive us and help us live new lives.

Because Jesus lived and died and rose again for us, we know that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. That is why when the leader says, “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven,” we respond, “Thanks be to God.

Directory for Worship 

A prayer of confession of the reality of sin in personal and common life follows. In a declaration of pardon, the gospel is proclaimed and forgiveness is declared in the name of Jesus Christ. God’s redemption and God’s claim upon human life are remembered.

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Order, W-3.3301d

Call to Worship: Liturgy, Music, Preaching, and the Arts provides musical selections (hymns, psalm settings, global song, and contemporary song, as well as other suggestions for choral and instrumental music) for each Sunday and festival in the Christian year. To learn more or subscribe, visit Call to Worship. 

Leading the Call to Confession from the Font and Table

Leading the Prayer of Confession from the Font and Table

Leading the Declaration of Forgiveness from the Font

Find Calls to Confession from Biblical and Confessional Resources for Worship.

Find Confessions of Sin from Biblical and Confessional Resources for Worship.

Find Declarations of Forgiveness from Biblical and Confessional Resources for Worship.

Find Confession and Pardon Sequences from Biblical and Confessional Resources for Worship.

Find Summaries of the Law from Biblical and Confessional Resources for Worship.

Find Statements of Peace from Biblical and Confessional Resources for Worship.

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual SongThe Peace