Our Prayer Book catechism answers the question “What is the mission of the Church” with the bold reply “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” That mission of the Church is lived out in many ways in our parish including worship, Christian formation experiences, our community life, and outreach, among others. In worship, we recall who we are as the people of God, we confess where we have fallen short in our relationship with God and others, as a sign of being reconciled we pass the peace, and then as reconciled people we gather as one around the Lord’s table. In our Christian formation experience, we learn more about and draw closer to God. Our life together in community is a way of expressing and growing our unity. Our outreach to others is a way of showing our gratitude for our being reconciled and to offer that same grace of reconciliation to others.
While this is the ongoing mission of the Church, the season of Lent has traditionally been a time where reconciliation is given special emphasis. It is a season of the Church year that begins on Ash Wednesday with a reading from the Gospel according to Matthew. We hear Jesus speaking about the pious practices of almsgiving, prayer and fasting that the reading suggests he assumes people are doing. Done in the proper spirit, these practices are seen by our Father in heaven and result in a store of heavenly treasure, the greatest being eternal relationship with God. Jesus recognized in his day that so much of what people should have been doing to seek unity with God was instead directed to gain the praise of others and the treasures in this world. The reading directs us examine our lives - our almsgiving, our prayer life, all the various things which we have come to enjoy too much and from which we might need to fast - to make amendment of life where necessary, and in some cases to seek reconciliation with God through the Rite of Reconciliation beginning on page 447 in the Prayer Book.
The Episcopal view on private confession with a priest is that “all may, some should, none must.” This is something I will be doing for myself and I invite all who feel called to make their confession to take advantage of that Rite this Lent. I have scheduled Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, 10:00 am-Noon to hear private confessions. If you have not made your confession before, I am happy to talk with you about your preparation.
In Christ’s service,