Lord, Have Mercy: The Order of Confession and Forgiveness, Mystagogical Preaching, and the “Southern Way of Life” Open Access

Parvin, Allison (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/xs55mc14f?locale=en
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Abstract

For five hundred years, the traditional Lutheran worship service has begun with an Order of Confession and Forgiveness.  Ostensibly, the practice of Confession and Forgiveness contains within it the renewing power of Baptism, as the grace and mercy of God wash away the revealed sin. Genuine, daily repentance leads to renewal, which over time, forms faithful believers. Mystagogical preaching is an intentional method of preaching the mysteries of the faith, a sustained reflection of the mysteries of Baptism and Holy Communion, to open the deeper meaning of the rituals of the faith. Mystagogical preaching is not a form of education, but one of formation in the ways believers live out the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Southern rural culture is anchored deeply in the local church. The rural church reflects many Christlike practices such as sharing extra produce from the garden, serving meals to grieving families, and praying for the sick in the community. From time to time, however, less generous practices crop up in form of racist attitudes, an unwillingness to help a neighbor in need, or resistance to a reinterpretation of deeply held religious beliefs. The myth of a God-ordained separation and hierarchy of the races is commonly coded, the “Southern Way of Life.” Mystagogical preaching, specifically on the Order of Confession and Forgiveness, is an effective tool for addressing and possibly changing thoughts, words and deeds shaped by the “Southern Way of Life” into those that honor God, neighbor, and self. 

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