Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Last night's Confession: "against our neighbor"

Sometimes familiar words of our liturgy arrest us with fresh or renewed insight.

Last night, I was barely into Evening Prayer when the call to Confession hit me:

"Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor."

I'm more of a "Rite I" guy, I suppose. More at home with "Let us confess our sins unto Almighty God." That's theologically correct, of course, all sin is ultimately a rebellion against God's plan and design.

But last night I found myself really caught by the words "and our neighbor." It was striking to say, "I did X to this person, and didn't do Y for this one." It was more acute, more real and more painful to my heart.

Jesus, asked for "the Great Commandment," put love of God and love of neighbor together. In our Gospel last Sunday, he connected our worship with reconciliation to our neighbor,

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

It's honest to confess, "I was feeling sorry for myself and did not see your blessings today, O Lord." Yet that's incomplete without, "And while feeling sorry for myself I ignored Z's need for my attention and compassion." The Spirit searches our heart for both.

1 comment:

The Archer of the Forest said...

I've always liked that about the Rite II. I'm more of a Rite I, dare I say 1662, kind of guy myself, particularly with the lections. (I just learned to read from the King Jimmy Version.)

Although, even in the old language, the bidding to the general confession basically said the same thing (though more wordily):

"Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, meekly kneeling upon your knees."

(Again, I quote from memory from the 1662. It's what I memorized. I always have to read that part of the Rite I in the American BCP, but its not what I learned).

In that, though, in love and charity with neighbor is a major pre-emptive clause.