23 April 2014

Daniel 9:1-6

“I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, ‘Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances.’” (vv. 4-5)


Here we see that for such a great hero of faith Daniel takes his confession very seriously. He is not alone, as in the English tradition so does Thomas Cranmer, editor of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (still in common use today in the Church of England). He was so convicted of the importance of confession that the Communion service includes confession near the beginning and then another just before receiving the bread and wine. How does that compare with worship today?

Daniel's confession stands in powerful contrast to the common practice today. Daniel's confession is entirely corporate, never individualistic. It is "we" (vv. 5, 6), rather like that somewhat overused and rather corny saying "There is no I in team".

It seems that for Daniel people are interdependent - what we do affects others and what they do affects us. When one person sins then there are consequences for others, and those consequences include their relationship with God, hence confession is needed.

So many of the issues, challenges, problems or sins in the world today seem way beyond us as individuals and can be too daunting to face.

April started with pollution and smog over much of the UK, none of us individually caused it, but nearly all of us were affected by it. The Internet often seems a breeding ground for intolerance and hatred (recent prosecutions for hate and threats over having women represented on bank notes are just one example).

Can Daniel's example of confession that is corporate, social and interdependent help us today? Could we include an understanding of confession as much bigger and much more relational than simply taking our personal, individual sins to God? Can we reconnect as interdependent people who each affect others and who in turn are affected by others through confession that uses "we" and think in bigger terms?

To Ponder

  • How do you find confession on your own and/or in services? How is your experience individualistic or interdependent?
  • Do we over emphasise an individual relationship with God in confession? Why? And is it a problem?
  • How could we experience a more interdependent form of confession? What might it look like? And how do you feel about it?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dave Warnock

Dave Warnock is a Methodist minister in the Leicester North Circuit based in Syston, Leicester. He is passionate about lots of things (including Scripture, discipleship, gender/sexual equality, pacifism and cycling) and loves being part of the Methodist people.