For the last few years, Saint Paul’s has taken part in a growing practice in the Church to forego the Confession during Easter Season. We’re not going to do it this year, for a few reasons. First, I’m pretty sure nobody got it. Most people didn’t notice it was missing and those who did, I’m sure didn’t have a clue why. Heck, by the end of last Easter Season, I wasn’t even sure why. Which leads me to my second reason, a practice I thought had historical roots, seem to not. I’ve made mistakes before, and I will again, but I do hate it when I go digging for the reason I thought I knew for doing something and I can find no record of it. I’d nearly forgotten all of this until I began reading through the lessons for Easter 2B and found this gem in 1 John.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9, NRSV)
On Easter Day, I preached that what makes the story of Jesus different is that he rose from the dead on the third day. What that means for us is that we have been given victory over death: that we can live resurrection lives right here and now, through the forgiveness of sin. Failing to confess our sins keeps us from living in the fullness of joy that comes with kingdom living, and we should take every opportunity to confess, repent, and ask forgiveness. Especially, it now occurs to me, in Easter. Without the realization of our own sinfulness, we have no need of a savior. Easter Season reminds us that we have a savior: one who lived as an example for us, died as a scapegoat for us, rose from the grave as a harbinger of joy for us, and sent his Spirit as an advocate for us. The key to unlocking that treasure trove of gifts is the confession of sin.
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. (BCP, 360)