Dear Friends, last week at the College of Bishops meeting the 2019 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) was completed and is ready to be presented to the Provincial Assembly in June for ratification. This makes our examination of the Service of Holy Eucharist in the 2019 BCP even more timely.
This week we continue to look at the three parts of Confession and Absolution - today, I’d like to focus on the Absolution.
A couple of years ago my family and I were on vacation in New York City where we attended a service at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. This is a famous church that has experienced terrific growth and has even become a movement. We arrived early and we were welcomed by the ushers and handed a bulletin. The church meets in a large auditorium at Hunter College and was packed with a very diverse group of men and women gathered to worship. The music was simple and beautiful, with members of the New York Philharmonic playing. The sermon was eloquent and meaningful. Following the sermon, the pastor led the congregation in a confession of sin. I expected the pastor to pronounce absolution but he went directly to the offertory and I wondered what had happened. My family and I just looked at each other and my son said – “didn’t he forget something?” Yes, he did!
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the Absolution.
The Bishop or Priest stands and says
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who in his great mercy has promised forgiveness of sins to all those who sincerely repent and with true faith turn to him, have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Miriam-Webster defines Absolution as: “the act of forgiving someone for having done something wrong or sinful : the act of absolving someone or the state of being absolved specifically : a remission of sins pronounced by a priest (as in the sacrament of reconciliation)”
Absolution is important because in the pronouncement of absolution the Priest or Bishop speaks for the Lord with the assurance of forgiveness for all who “sincerely repent and with true faith” turn to God. 1 John 1:9 promises forgiveness to those who are truly repentant and confess their sins. Absolution is the auditory confirmation of God’s promise in His Word.
Because we rely upon God’s Grace and Mercy it is important to hear those words of forgiveness spoken!
It is in that very forgiveness that we come into a state of Grace that allows us not only to receive the Holy Eucharist but allows the grace of the sacrament to become effectual in our lives!
I pray you all a very blessed day!