Friday, February 22, 2013

What happened to sin?

“To admit to being no more and no less than an ordinary sinner is not comforting, it does not shine with the glamour of despondency; above all, it does nothing to foster my self-esteem.  It is easiest to reject the whole concept as negative and old-fashioned.

I am a sinner, and the Presbyterian Church offers me a weekly chance to come clean, and to pray, along with others, what is termed a prayer of confession.  But pastors can be so reluctant to use the word ‘sin’ that in church we end up confessing nothing except our highly developed capacity for denial.  

One week, for example, the confession began, ‘Our communication with Jesus tends to be too infrequent to experience the transformation in our lives You want us to have,’ which seems less a prayer than a memo from one professional to another.  At times, I picture God as a wily writing teacher who leans across a table and says, not at all gently, ‘Could you possibly be troubled to say what you mean?’  It would be refreshing to answer, simply, ‘I have sinned.’

Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith (New York: Riverhead Books, 1998, p.165)