One of my favorite parts of the Anglican service is the responsiveness. I’m not just a passive participant in a church service. It’s active. The services I’ve attended have been a bit less formal. Believe it or not, even Anglicans have more contemporary services. ( That being said, I do hope to attend a more High Church type service soon for the experience).
In these services, it’s more than sing a few songs and then listen to a sermon. The focus of the service is preparing the congregants for partaking in the Eucharist, also known as The Lord’s Supper.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the
truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God, who is
faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all
unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8,9
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the
heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us with confidence draw
near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and
find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14,16
And there is a particular portion from the Book of Common Prayer that we all say together corporately that strikes me every week. It’s the prayer of confession.
Critics of this type of church tradition may pass judgment that we are saying nothing more than a recitation, rote words with little meaning. An impersonal, musty prayer.
But it’s more than that. Much more. Each week as I recite the confessional prayer, it does cause great reflection on my actions, and especially my inactions, from the previous week.
Here’s the prayer.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
This prayer is deep, people. Read it. It reminds us that God is merciful. Then, we must realize that sin is encompassed in words, thoughts, and actions. Thoughts… Wow. Those private, inner thoughts. Yikes.
Then, by what we have done, and what we haven’t done. How often is that really thought about… What wasn’t done. Sure, we remember the white lie, the angry words, the bad attitude. But how often do we think about the things we left undone that should have been done. That list is a long one, no? Let that sink in…
And then this prayer addresses directly our violation of the only two laws that Jesus commanded: Love God and Love others. That’s huge. And scriptural…
And then the call to repentance with humility and a desire to walk in God’s ways.
Each week, I am compelled to reflect on my behavior and my thoughts. Each week, I am being reminded in this prayer to Love God and Love others. Each week, I am reminded that God forgives, and it gives me a chance to wipe the slate clean and move forward to do better during the week ahead.
And I don’t mind the corporate aspect of this prayer. Is there a better reminder that before God we are all on the same level? He is no respecter of persons, I was taught. And this signifies that fact weekly to me. In the church, we all come from various walks of life, yet before God, we all can confess and find equal standing.
This prayer… It affects me, deep in my soul, it grabs ahold of me. I often find tears in my eyes as I recite it. It’s moving. It’s deep. I love it and am blessed by it.
God’s peace to you all!