family church in St JohnsLegend has it that one day King Frederick the Great was visiting the jails of Potsdam and speaking to the inmates. Surprisingly, every single one of them claimed to be totally innocent of the charges against them. Near the end of the King’s visit, one of the inmates confessed, “My King, I am guilty and deserve the punishment I am receiving.” The King ordered the man to be released and with a smile he explained, “After all, I don’t want this fellow to corrupt all the innocent people in here.”

This story is funny. But it also reminds me of Jesus parable about two men praying – a religious Pharisee and a sinful tax collector. In his prayer, the religious Pharisee went on and on about what a good person he was and how grateful he was that he was not like the other man. The tax collector prayed simply, “Lord be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus told us that it was this second man – not the first – who was justified by God.

The truth is we all fall short, and from time to time we all miss the mark. The scriptures remind us; however, that when we are honest about it, and confess our wrongs, God who is merciful and just has promised to forgive us – and give us a new start.

Thanks be to God!

Let us pray: God of Grace, we thank you for your love and mercy. We claim the promise of the Apostle Paul that nothing – absolutely nothing in life or in death can separate us from your love. So we ask you today to hear the confessions of our hearts. Forgive us, and grant us time and courage to amend our ways and begin anew. We ask in Jesus name. Amen.