Every Sunday (except for Sundays during Easter season) we have the General Confession. In the BAS it is called the Confession and Absolution. The purpose is twofold, first to acknowledge our sinfulness before God and second, to remind ourselves of God’s love and forgiveness. This is a good and healthy thing for us to do, especially as we are about to begin the Eucharistic part of the service, because it helps us move forward.
Acknowledging our sin, being assured of God’s love and forgiveness and moving on is the shape of the General Confession. However, I often hear people say that they believe they are forgiven by God, even forgiven by the person they may have sinned against, but that they can’t forgive themselves. There is a one line prayer that I like, “God forgive my un-forgiveness.” An inability to forgive ourselves is something God will forgive too.
The feasibility study we conducted during the summer suggested that members of St. Paul’s Church have been hurt and frustrated over the years. We are quite concerned about this and wish to find a way forward. The hope is that we will respond openly and honestly to these frustrations. The plan is that people who would like to express their frustrations or hurts meet with me and Wardens before January 31, 2011. Addressing the issues that people bring forward will mean that there will be no secrets and there is a commitment to action. If confidentiality is desired then pastoral care will be offered by the clergy of the parish. In February 2011 there will be a service of Reconciliation and Healing (a moving forward) for the whole congregation.
It is our deepest hope that we will stick together as we solve these current troubles and that we will find a way forward by also forgiving ourselves.