Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What to give up for Easter

We are accustomed to the idea of giving things up for Lent, but what about Easter? In some Churches it customary to omit the General Confession from the liturgy during the season of Easter. Easter, by the way, is not just one day long, it is fifty days, stretching from Easter Sunday to the Day of Pentecost. That's fifty days. So, for all the Sundays in Easter we will omit the General Confession from the liturgy.

The General Confession is that part of the service commonly referred to as the Confession and Absolution. The reason for the omission, as I was taught, was that by not omitting it, it is as if we are denying the effectual blessing of the resurrection; that as we bask in the glory of the resurrection there is no need to remind ourselves how sinful we are, we need to remind ourselves of how blessed we are by God's forgiveness. Of course, that is as true all year as it is during Easter season, but it is a way of making a point. The resurrection worked and we are forgiven and loved by God.

Some people will naturally miss the General Confession. So, don't forget that it remains in the worship in other forms. For example, the Lord's Prayer includes the petition, "Forgive us our sins..." The Passing of the Peace is a way of saying to others, "forgive me, let's be at peace." And of course, receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in Communion is a supreme act of penitence and indicates the ultimate desire to be at peace with God, with one another and with ourselves.

The point is that death and sin are defeated, that love and mercy win, and the power that brought about the resurrection is alive in us - the Church, the Risen Body of Christ.

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