In our examination of the 2019 Book of Common Prayer’s service of Holy Eucharist, last week we looked at the role of the Nicene Creed. This week I’d like to look at the Confession and Absolution of Sin. This part of the Eucharistic Liturgy takes place in three parts – invitation – confession – absolution.
The Confession and Absolution of Sin
The Deacon or other person appointed says the following
All who truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and seek to live in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead the new life, following the commandments of God, and walking in his holy ways: draw near with faith and make your humble confession to Almighty God.
Let us humbly confess our sins to Almighty God.
An invitation to repent is an important aspect to the whole act of confession. I love the first option here for how it describes theologically and accurately the point and purpose of confession. Confession of sin needs to both be taken seriously and be genuine IF it is to be effective.
All who truly and earnestly repent of your sins – This invitation assumes that we have already repented. Repentance means we need to make a 180 degree turn. We do this in two steps, first by recognizing that we are walking away from God and are instead following our own desires, and then by stopping and making the decision to return to God.
and seek to live in love and charity with your neighbors - This means that our intention is to reconcile with our neighbor – here neighbor is meant in the broadest sense as found in the Great Commandment – “And the second is like it – to love your neighbor as yourself.” Neighbor is not intended to be the person living next to you but everyone near and far. To live in love and charity is not to “like” everyone or to “support” everyone – but to respect them as fellow human beings created in the image of God. Because of that we can “love your enemies and pray for those who curse you.” (Mt. 5:44)
and intend to lead the new life, following the commandments of God, and walking in his holy ways: - Intention to reconcile with our neighbor also means intention to live a life in Christ as a New Creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
draw near with faith and make your humble confession to Almighty God. – We are invited to “draw near with faith” as is appropriate when entering into the presence of Almighty God!
We are invited into God’s presence to make our confession of sin because our God is gracious and loving and kind, therefore we may enter into his presence with confidence!
I pray that your Christmas Season was blessed and that your Season of Epiphany will be filled with Joy!