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The Rite of Reconciliation – “Absolution”

My dear friends, I hope and pray that you are all doing well, looking after yourselves, your families, friends, and neighbors.
In our Bishop’s Note we are going through the 2019 BCP and the Rite of Reconciliation.  Last week we examined the counsel, direction, and comfort given by the priest. This week we cover the core of the Rite of Reconciliation, the absolution where we’re given reconciliation with God.

The Priest then declares
Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given power to his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive you all your offenses; and by his authority committed to me, I absolve you from all your sins: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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.
The Lord has put away all your sins.
                Penitent           Thanks be to God.

As mentioned previously, this isn’t the priest as an individual forgiving sin. The church has been given the ability to forgive sins by Jesus Christ himself.  Think of his words on the Day of Resurrection to the disciples in the Upper Room: “Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21-23) The church has been given the ministry of reconciliation to the priests and bishops, and this is the point where they exercise that ministry. How powerful it is to hear those words spoken by a priest in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – “The Lord has put away all your sins.”
This is one of the parts of our services I love but is so often ignored. So many Anglicans refuse to go to reconciliation because they directly ask God themselves for the forgiveness of their sins and they see this as an “either/or proposition” rather than “both/and.” God does forgive sins we lay before him in prayer, but there’s a lot to be said about having the priest absolve you of your sins. When you’re doing this alone with God, it can often feel like all the action is done by you, this service shows that’s not the case. For reconciliation we need to come to God not only in faith but in a sense of repentance, however the action in the sacrament isn’t ours, it’s his. Faith and repentance are needed prior to the absolution, but the absolution is done by God through a priest or bishop. This sacrament serves as a reminder that God is in charge. We don’t achieve reconciliation through our own efforts, we could never merit it on our own, it’s given by God and declared to us.
Also, it’s important that we have someone there to declare that absolution. There’s a reason God sent his Son into the world in the flesh rather than just speaking through the prophets. It’s entirely different when you have someone speaking in person, in the flesh.
I hope all of you in our current Lenten season are able to see God’s mercy and love more and more in your lives!
Bishop Eric

San Joaquin Anglican
March Diocesan events canceled 

March 29
Bishop @ St. Alban

April 2
Mass of Chrism (CANCELED)

April 5
Palm Sunday

April 9
Maundy Thursday (Office Closed at Noon)

April 10
Good Friday (Office Closed)

April 12
Easter Sunday

April 19
Bishop @ St. James, Lindsay

April 27-29
Spring Clergy Retreat

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Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin · 1300 East Shaw Avenue #123 · Fresno, CA 93710 · USA

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