In Luther’s Small Catechism, we read the following:
How Christians should be taught to confess.
What is Confession?
Confession embraces two parts: the one is, that we confess our sins; the other, that we receive absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor, as from God Himself, and in no wise doubt, but firmly believe, that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven.
What sins should we confess?
Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those which we do not know, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer. But before the confessor we should confess those sins alone which we know and feel in our hearts.
Which are these?
Here consider your station according to the Ten Commandments, whether you are a father, mother, son, daughter, master, mistress, a man-servant or maid-servant; whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, slothful; whether you have grieved any one by words or deeds; whether you have stolen, neglected, or wasted aught, or done other injury.
Luther, and our Lutheran Confessions, commend the practice of Individual Confession and Absolution as a precious gift of God for Baptized Christians. For those Christians who are penitent and weary of their sins, this Sacrament provides grace to comfort the conscience and sustain the soul.
We find the Scriptural basis for pronouncing the forgiveness of sins (absolution) in John 20:22-23, especially:
[The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said] “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Pastor Porter is available for Individual Confession and Absolution by appointment. It is recommended that penitents prepare themselves to make confession by meditating on the Ten Commandments and reviewing the rite, which is located on page 196 of the Lutheran Book of Worship.
Confessions are protected by the seal of the confessional and may not be divulged under any circumstance.
As an aid to prepartion, one may use this “Confession Mirror”.
For Lutherans, the gift of individual Absolution lies in the focused and unequivocal declaration of the full forgiveness of sins, accomplished for us by Jesus Christ. As the Catechism tells us, when we receive the forgiveness of sins, we receive life and salvation along with it. Christians live from the forgiveness of sins!