A Brief Form of Confession.
You should speak to the confessor thus: Reverend and dear sir, I beseech you to hear my confession, and to pronounce forgiveness to me for God's sake.
I, a poor sinner, confess myself before God guilty of all sins; especially I confess before you that I am a man-servant, a maidservant, etc. But, alas, I serve my master unfaithfully; for in this and in that I have not done what they commanded me; I have provoked them, and caused them to curse, have been negligent [in many things] and permitted damage to be done; have also been immodest in words and deeds, have quarreled with my equals, have grumbled and sworn at my mistress, etc. For all this, I am sorry, and pray for grace; I want to do better.
A master or mistress may say thus:
In particular, I confess before you that I have not faithfully trained my children, domestics, and family for God's glory. I have cursed, set a bad example by rude words and deeds, have done my neighbor harm and spoken evil of him, have overcharged and given false ware and short measure.
And whatever else he has done against God's command and his station, etc.
But if any one does not find himself burdened with such or greater sins, he should not trouble himself or search for or invent other sins, and thereby make confession a torture, but mention one or two that he knows. Thus: In particular, I confess that I once cursed; again, I once used improper words, I have once neglected this or that, etc. Let this suffice.
But if you know of none at all (which, however is scarcely possible), then mention none in particular, but receive the forgiveness upon your general confession which you make before God to the confessor.
“I want to do better.” That’s what we desire. We want to DO BETTER. So often we get hung up in our quest for perfection. We can’t get over those sins which trouble us. We can’t get over those nagging and besetting sins. We can’t get past what’s in our past. So what shall we do? Do nothing. Instead, receive. Receive the gift of the Savior’s merit. Receive the gift of the Father’s love. Receive the clemency and absolution that Jesus has earned for you. When it comes to forgiveness there is absolutely nothing that we do. We simply receive, with joy and thanksgiving.
O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us and grant us Thy peace.
Agnus Dei, Lutheran Service Book © 2008 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Artwork by Ed Rojas, © Higher Things