Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Effectual Working

Many years ago, I was sitting in a college classroom learning about the liturgy of the Anglican Church. One lecture the professor, with exaggerated nods from the tutor, began explaining what is done, and what is not done, during Easter Season.

It didn’t come a surprise to me that we were taught that the General Confession is omitted during Easter Season, because that was the practice I was familiar with. But for the life of me, I had no idea why. So, I asked and I was told that, “one does not deny ‘the effectual working’ of the resurrection so close to Easter.” Saint Paul, explaining his ministry to the Christians in Ephesus wrote, “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.” (Ephesians 3, KJV)

The upshot of the argument to refrain from using the General Confession during Easter season is that the resurrection really happened and that it really made a difference in our lives. The forgiveness of God is real. This explanation was given with an air of, “so there!” Let’s not wonder why we should use the General Confession at all, because no answer was given when I asked that question.

The truth of the matter is that we Christians confess all over the place. For example, we say the Lord’s Prayer and we include a petition in the Prayers of the People. A General Confession didn’t even make an appearance in the Eucharistic celebration until the printing of the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549. Though the argument is weak, here at St. Paul’s we omit the General Confession during Easter season but we never prevent anyone from genuinely confessing their sins at any time and always (always!) assure one another of the effectual working of God to forgive.

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