Sunday, September 27, 2015

Standing Naked Before God


“Would you rather be an ego or a soul?”
Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open, 2004

I found this quote in a new book by Molly Phinney Baskette entitled, Standing Naked before God: the art of public confession. In the book Molly illuminates the most central of many things they have done at First Church Somerville to make a struggling church of 35 into a thriving church of 350 over the course of a decade. There is much about what she is offering us that resonates for me as deeply true. But what most excites me is that it offers a way to integrate transformation and worship.


Very briefly stated, what the good folks of First Church [it seems they call themselves Firsties] do most weeks is to invite the liturgist to make a public act of confession as a component of leading worship. This is something they take very seriously and prepare for with great care. The waiting list to get to be the liturgist is 20 weeks long.


I will summarize what I understand the rationale for this to be as;

  • since worship is about coming into a personal relationship with the divine in a corporate setting, and 
  • since we understand that we are not showing up in our own lives in perfect harmony with who God is calling us to be, and 
  • since the way we each experience sin in our lives is probably not exclusive to our personal experience, 

the act of confession is both a way to bring our personhood into greater harmony with God while at the same time making it clear that we all sin and that it is safe to be imperfect in this community of faith.

I don’t think we can just import into Sacred Soup what they do at First Church. We are different from them in too many ways for that to work. But we are a community that is committed to our own transformation by being real with each other. And recently having had a conversation about what we each mean by sin and having come to some consensus that while we are not bad, we from time to time do bad and that we want to clean that up, I suggest we explore ways to incorporate into our own liturgy something like confession.

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