Reconciliation: to reconcile; to make friendly again; to settle differences; to bring harmony; to make content
Read: 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 New International Version (NIV)
Lent or Advent is a great time for Confession because both seasons are times for preparation and self examination.
Those of us in the Episcopal Church don’t think much about Reconciliation (or Confession). But, Confession is indeed available to us as one of the Sacraments of the church. The Reconciliation of a Penitent, Page 447 – Forms I & II, of the Book of Common Prayer.
I would like to share with you my very first Confession around age 45 or 46. I didn’t even know how to go about it. I was working for my church as their secretary–so the priest was not only my boss, but my spiritual advisor and friend.
He told me to pray about my Confession and to write down anything that preyed on my mind…things I had done in the past, if I had any ill feelings, unforgiven acts, etc. He told me to work on the list for a week or so and when I was satisfied that it was complete, I would then make my appointment for Confession.
My time was set and as the hour grew closer I began to tremble. The priest had a chair setting diagonally in front of the railing facing the altar so I could still see his face from my kneeling position behind the railing but he could not see me. We began the service and when the part that says that I have sinned and to list them, I took out my two-pages and read them off. My voice was shaky as each sin was stated. When I was through the priest talked with me about some of them and gave me advice as to how I may grow in the experience. He also gave me two or three psalms to read after he left and to think about the list, rereading it.
The really moving and very emotional part was when he told me after rereading my list, I was to tear it up and place it on the altar as I left because I was forgiven. When I tore up those pieces of paper a heavy weight was lifted from me. It was one of the most moving services I have ever attended.
I asked him how he could feel the same about people after he hears their confessions. He said, “No one sin is greater than another. Sin is sin and sin removes US from God’s presence. God doesn’t remove Himself from us.” Then he said that God has a special way of making priests forget about what they have heard–like He wipes it from their minds. I thought that was cool.
Nothing that is worthwhile is ever easy and Confession is worthwhile. If you have never entertained the thought to make a Confession, believe me, you will not be sorry for doing so.