In my Bishop’s Note these past few months I’ve been looking at the Service of Holy Eucharist as laid out in the upcoming 2019 Book of Common Prayer. (By the way, the College of Bishops this week approved the final copy of the BCP 2019 and sent it on to Provincial Assembly for ratification.)
Last week we looked at part one of the three part confession: Invitation, Confession and Absolution. Today I’d like to look at the confession itself...
The Deacon and People kneel as able and pray
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
maker and judge of us all:
We acknowledge and repent of our many sins and offenses,
which we have committed by thought, word, and deed
against your divine majesty,
provoking most justly your righteous anger against us.
We are deeply sorry for these transgressions;
the burden of them is more than we can bear.
Have mercy upon us,
Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father;
for your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
forgive us all that is past;
and grant that we may evermore serve and please you in newness of life,
to the honor and glory of your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The first thing that jumps out at me is the posture for confession - kneeling - for those who are able. We collectively kneel before the Lord as a physical sign of our contrition before Almighty God the Father of our Lord Jesus who is now and will be the judge of us all. Contrary to popular belief, WE are not our own judge but we are now and will in the future stand before our Creator and Judge.
Second, we openly confess our sin - in thought, word, and deed - against God. We must remember that all sin is against God - it may be through action or our failure to act when we should - it may be primarily spiritual - Pride - or primarily physical - abortion and everything in between, but it is all against God.
Third, we acknowledge that the appropriate response to our sin is God’s righteous anger.
Fourth, we confess that having acknowledged our sin the spiritual burden - feelings of remorse and regret - powerfully weighs upon us, which is also the appropriate reaction to our own sin. If we do not feel that weight upon us, I suspect we have not truly repented.
Fifth, we beg God’s mercy. We beg God’s forgiveness with the full assurance that God’s only begotten son, Jesus Christ, has already demonstrated that mercy by receiving God’s wrath, His just punishment for our sin upon the cross. And, we beg God’s mercy with full assurance that because of Christ’s substitution on the cross for us, that forgiveness is ours. We remember St. John’s words in his First Epistle: “If we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Sixth, we not only ask for forgiveness, but also, as St. John says, we ask God to “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” so that we may live in the light and no longer in darkness.
Lastly, we pray, with full assurance, that God’s forgiveness and grace will allow us to live in a way that honors and pleases Him.
It is this weekly and daily confession that allows us to have the weight of sin, the burden of spiritual blindness, lifted that we may live a righteous and godly life.
Next week we will look at the pronouncement of absolution.
I pray you all a blessed Lord’s Day!