Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
I grew up in a United Methodist Church that was very contemporary. Our building was contemporary - all concrete and glass, and a sanctuary with movable chairs that became a place where volleyball was played during youth group. Our liturgy was contemporary - to the point that I was in seminary before I knew that there was a Great Thanksgiving most churches said before communion (ours was just a few lines from the preacher), and I don't recall ever saying a corporate confession (confessing in a large group together). I loved attending chapel in seminary - exploring each week the rich liturgical landscape of the UMC that wasn't present in the church of my childhood.
I found myself loving confession - this idea that together, out loud, we admit to our failings, to our flaws, to where we have fallen short. This passage from James is all about prayer - the power of prayer to heal, save and forgive; and an important part of prayer is to first confess all that we have done and left undone. In today's society I think confession is a bit of a lost art - most people, especially those in the public eye, will never admit they might be wrong, will never admit they might have made a mistake, will never admit they are, indeed, fallible human beings. Of course anyone who is willing to do such is generally ripped apart by society - for we have also lost the art of forgiveness.
I think it's time to bring back both - confession and forgiveness. We need to be willing to admit where we have done wrong, so we can do better going forward. We need to be willing to forgive when someone does confess to wrongdoing. We need to hold ourselves to higher standards - which means being able to admit when we have fallen short of those standards. Corporate confession is good for the soul - it reminds you that you aren't the only one stumbling in this life, and you aren't the only one trying to be better. And we can do better together.
All merciful God, you already know all that we have done and all that we have left undone. We come before you now to confess to these things, and to ask your forgiveness for all that we have done and all that we have left undone. Help us to know better and to do better, with the strength of Jesus Christ and the stamina of the Holy Spirit. Amen.