Corporate confession of sin is essential for the full gospel to be present in worship and for grace of God to be known. Chapell, 182, highlights the importance, “The grace of God has no present glory if the sin it overcomes is not a present reality, and the ministry of Christ has no significance if the sin he came to defeat will not even be faced.”
Corporate confession of sin recognizes and addresses the issue of one member of the church’s sin impacting the whole church, whether it is a secret or public sin. Likewise, the sins of the church body impact the individual member. This concept is present in the scriptures where, for example, the sins of the forefathers are visited upon their descendants who somehow bear the burden for their forefathers’ sin. Also, God considered the sin of Aachan, one man, as being the sin of the whole people of Israel (Jo 7:11), bringing disastrous consequences. Then, in Is 6:5, Isaiah not only lamented his own sin, but he lamented that he lived “among a people of unclean lips.” In the presence of the Holy God, he recognized that he was tainted by his own sin; he was tainted by the sin of the people; and the people were tainted by his sin.
Thus, the post-resurrection church has practiced corporate confession of sin throughout its history. We did it prior to the Reformation in the Roman Church, reciting the Kyrie (“Lord have mercy”), and we’ve done it since the Reformation. Luther continued the Kyrie. Calvin expanded upon it, with the ten commandments being read with the Kyrie repeated after each (also cf. WLC #194). In various forms, the practice of corporate confession has always been and continues to be essential to corporate worship.
Due to these reasons, we at MPC confess our sins corporately each week in our Sunday morning worship. The “Assurance of Pardon” then follows, emphasizing the grace of God and the forgiveness we have in Jesus Christ (1 Jn 1:9; Eph 1:7).
May God’s blessing be upon you,