Liturgy (services): Confession
Confession and Absolution at St Mary's follows the rule laid down by Archbishop Michael Ramsay, who said that, in the Church of England, with regard to Confession: "All can, some should, none must."
There is something truly special about knowing that the sins of the truly penitent are forgiven. As Christians, we are called to examine our lives regularly and to recognize the times when we have not loved God or our neighbour as we ought.
The more aware we become of how we fall short, the more aware we become of God's grace in our lives because despite our sins, he still calls us to him, he reaches out to us and is ready to forgive.
If someone wrongs us then we are called to forgive them even if they do not say they are sorry but when it comes to God, we must be truly penitent in order to receive his forgiveness.
At St Mary's, confession is available to all who seek it. It is not a mysterious rite: the card we use is available by pressing the button above. It involves an individual recognizing their sin and asking for guidance, penance and forgiveness.
A penance is an act which we undertake as part of our sorrow for sin. Penance does not 'earn' us forgiveness, instead it something which we do as a part of our journey of seeing God's total forgiveness. It may be the reading of a psalm, a set of verses from the Bible or a hymn. Alternatively, it could be the saying of a particular prayer or prayers. The intention is that we should further meditate upon God's glory, grace and goodness in order that we may conform ourselves more and more to his likeness. The more we are like him, the more we are fitted for his kingdom.
It is true that a great many people confess the same sins over and over again and some think that this shows they are not truly sorry but often that is simply not true. Christians battle against sin every day and we do fall, we do give in to the temptation against which we are fighting: being aware that we're falling, that we're sinning, is important and so we do strive and fight and when we fail, we say so. We should always be aware of the need to pick ourselves up and start again.
God's love for his people never runs out. It never goes stale or cold. But sin cannot exist close to God and in our battle we see him helping us. Confession is a part of the struggle for many Christians and it is offered to all who find it a source of strength and hope.