Dear People of Saint Peter’s,
Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
As we move through the great fifty days of Easter, we continue to contemplate the gift and joy of the Resurrection. We have many ways of marking the changes of the liturgical seasons. You may notice the color on the altar has moved from purple (penitence) to white (celebration). The silver and brass that were put away for the austerity of Lent have reappeared, polished and brilliant. The Gloria is sung every Sunday now and “Alleluias” appear in just about every hymn. All of this, and much more, is to mark a shift in our annual liturgical pilgrimage. We move away from the mindfulness of our own sins and into a deeper meditation on the wideness and magnificence of God’s Grace.
For that reason, you may notice that the Confession has disappeared from the Sunday liturgy. During Lent, it shifted from being after the Prayers of the People and before the Peace to being at the very beginning of the service. In Lent, we are especially attentive to those things that separate us from the Love of God as we seek to work intentionally to remove those blocks that WE have put between us and God. Now in Easter, we contemplate the lavishness and enormity of God’s grace and love for us, as revealed upon the Cross and through the Resurrection. In Easter, we remember that there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus. As it says in Paul’s Letter to the Church of Rome (8:38-39): “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This is not to say that we cease sinning and blocking the Love of God, but rather that we need cannot allow our own failings to obstruct our awareness of God’s presence in our lives and God’s limitless love, grace and forgiveness. At times in the past, the Church has lost sight of this, obsessing upon the human imperfections of our souls. It is indeed a fine line, one which, even today, we can lose in the mad shuffle of life. The collect for the Second Sunday of Easter sums it up well:
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
And so, I wish you a blessed Easter and a season full of reflection upon the grace and love of God. May we all show forth what we have received in Christ, what we profess to believe in faith, in the context of our daily lives. May we remember our call, by virtue our baptism, to be reconcilers, healers, and agents of grace, love and forgiveness. Rather than Confession, let us focus on our MISSION to be the Church in our daily lives. Perhaps, in place of the confession during these Great Fifty Days, we might embrace this daily contemplation from Henri Nouwen:
Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in the world and the life to come.
Please keep me in your prayers and know that you are daily in mine.