From The Rector…
You may have noticed that we are “skipping” the Confession on Sunday mornings. And good for you! Just this last Sunday I was asked why we weren’t saying the Confession and my first reaction was to jump up and down and cheer that someone was paying enough attention to the liturgy and was curious enough to ask about this thing that seemed different. I love to talk about liturgy and whenever someone asks me a question regarding why we worship in the ways that we do, they might as well get comfortable because I could go on and on. That was probably the case last Sunday when the question arose as to why no Confession—I am sure I talked their ear off. It also inspired this week’s reflection. So buckle up and get ready to hear about all the liturgical options we exercise in the Easter season.
The rubrics (instructions) in the Book of Common Prayer allow for the Confession to be omitted on occasion. (p. 330, 359) To not say the Confession as part of the liturgy is perfectly acceptable when it comes to Sunday morning worship. The Lord’s Prayer is a nice substitute for the full Confession, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” as we give voice to our sinful nature in preparation for receiving the Eucharist. If you are filling a particular need to confess, you are always invited to pray the Confession in those quiet times when the priest is setting the table or following communion.
We omit the Confession in the season of Easter because it is not a penitential season. Jesus’ victory over death and the power of sin is a celebratory time for us as Christians and the Church. In an effort to remind us of the joy of our salvation, we release our more penitential moments of the liturgy which include the Confession and in the Rite One liturgy also include the Prayer of Humble Access and a switch to Eucharistic Prayer 2 which is much less penitent in language. (You may have noticed during the season of Lent we prayed the Rite One, Eucharistic Prayer 1 at both services as a reflection of our more penitent nature.) We also switch to Eucharistic Prayer B in the Rite Two liturgy as its language is also a little less penitent.
The choices we make regarding our liturgy and its structure are meant to reflect the ebb and flow of a life-giving, soul-inspiring worship that connects us not only to God on Sundays, it also connects us to creation and the fluidity of nature reflected in our church calendar. The season of spring is a time of joy and hopefulness. It inspires us through beauty and new birth as flowers bloom and birds sing. It pairs nicely with a resurrection mindset that inspires and focuses on new possibilities. We are moving out of the dead that is winter and into the new life of the earth and of God. Omitting the penitential aspects of liturgy is a reflection of that mindset—one that moves us away from thoughts of unworthiness and into the realization of God’s love and hope for us.
Never fear, the Confession will be back. When the seasons change from the resurrection of Easter and spring to the long, hot season after Pentecost and all summer we will find our need to confess satiated in the waters of absolution that are poured upon us each Sunday as the Confession returns to our liturgy. But for now, in this moment and at this time, it is an opportunity to remember that we are not only sinners, we are children—loved, protected, desired, and redeemed by God.
Light and Life,