Welcome to the Year of Our Lord 2008.

If you are following tradition and doing your homework, you have sent last year out with all its triumphs, celebrations, regrets and mistakes. You are ready to move smoothly into this bright, shiny new year with a clean slate, a light heart and a positive outlook on what is to come.

If you haven't quite gotten around to handling these year end closeouts, let me offer you the opportunity to enter into a personal confession. I have a confession to make. Perhaps you do to.

Confession? Yes, confession, but not solely in the way most of us consider the practice. Confession isn't just about listing all one's faults to a priest or to God, although that is part of what I am proposing here. Confession is also about declaring what we believe, saying out loud what principles we hold to in our defining moments. Confession could be summed up as understanding what we believe, but also understanding how we have fallen short of living by what we believe.

Start this process of personal reconciliation by asking yourself what matters to you most in life. On what do you place value? Family? Friends? Hard work? Justice? Mercy? Integrity? We all have specific ideas of what is important to us. We bring these values into our lives by how we choose our behaviors. If we value family we find ways to make time to include our relatives in our lives. If we consider justice to be a moral commitment we find ways to act justly and create justice in the world. If we value mercy we extend mercy to those around us.

Confess to yourself now what principles guide your existence on this planet. Then take a few moments to identify how you are living our these principles.

Confession also, in the more well-known usage, offers us the chance to let bygones be bygones with ourselves, giving us the freedom to move forward in our lives without the burdens of what has already passed and over which we no control. Looking with honesty and humility at actions we have taken or words we have spoken that have not matched up with what we value is the process of confession. In other words, to confess our sins is to identify where we have separated ourselves from what we would have done or said if we had lived by what we believe. Take a few moments to see what you would have done differently and where you feel separation from who and what you want to be.

How we confess those missteps, those separations within ourselves is quite personal. Some people prefer the privacy of prayer, speaking directly with God. Others prefer the support of another person, be they minister, priest, rabbi, counselor or friend, a human being by whom they will not feel judged or criticized. Others write letters to themselves or keep a journal intended only for themselves. The how of confession is important only insofar as we each must choose what method is appropriate for us. No one can or should direct another to examine and revitalize their life.

And this brings us to the most important aspect of confession, particularly in our present world: confession isn't about inflicting guilt or shame or blame on ourselves or each other. Confession is the process by which we redeem our true selves, the person God delighted in creating, thereby bringing us back to a closer union with our Source of Being. In confession we remind ourselves to Whom we belong. Confessing what we no longer want to repeat from the past allows us the grace to look to the future with a renewed spirit of faith.

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies at Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Bring authentic, meaningful faith into your daily life by visiting www.creatingwomenministries.com.