You may have noticed that the liturgy has changed for the season. The penitential rite has been beginning our services this Lent. This is the “confession and absolution”, as we usually call it, and it normally comes after “the prayers of the people,” right before “the Peace.”
This shift in our rhythm of corporate (communal) prayer is to emphasize the penitential nature of Lent – a reminder of the reality of sin.
Sin is not something particularly popular to talk about. For many, it is a bad word. I understand and empathize with many people’s aversion to it. Concepts of ‘sin’ have been used as a weapon, to hurt, shame, and at its worst, control others.
I reject that.
At the same time, we do not need to throw it all out – the proverbial “baby with the bathwater.” ‘Sin’ is important, because it describes the truth that we hurt and harm ourselves, each other, and the world all the time, individually and communally. It is impossible not to. Whether by what we do or don’t do there are things for which we need forgiveness.
However, sin isn’t the end of the story. Hence the absolution that always follows confession. We say “sorry,” we repent, we make amends, we change our ways (we can’t skip this part), but then we are met, always, by God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.
Thanks be to God!