Martin Copenhaver: Fresh Notebooks

"Clean the slate, God, so we can start fresh." - Psalm 19:13 (The Message)

When I was young, I loved anticipating the first day of school. On the night before that first day, I would study the roster of my class as if it were holy writ and fantasize that many of the classmates I did not yet know would all soon become good friends. I would lay out my clothes on the floor just right (the socks already in the shoes, etc.)-as if I expected that the next morning I would be able to jump into them in a single acrobatic movement.

What I loved most, however, were the new notebooks. They always seemed so fresh and full of promise. They didn't contain a single misspelled word or grammatical error. There were no incorrect calculations, no indecipherable handwriting. In fact, there was nothing in them at all, which is what I found so appealing. Clean notebooks were the epitome of the fresh start. Whatever mistakes I had made in the past were, indeed, past and I could start anew. I found that reassuring and even close to thrilling, as only a new start can be.

I have often heard people say they don't like prayers of confession in worship. To them, prayers of confession feel like a downer. That is not my experience. To me such prayers, particularly when followed by an assurance of pardon, are like being handed a new notebook before the first day of school. It is a clean slate, a fresh start. To me, that is not only reassuring-it can be thrilling. 


Clean my slate, God, so I can start afresh.


From UCC's StillSpeaking Devotionals. Visit