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What a Relief!


I’ve been thinking about anxiety lately.  Not because I’m anxious but because there is a pervasive, collective anxiety all around us: in the world, in politics, in the church, in families.  Sometimes the tiniest stressor creates a big emotional explosion, out of proportion perhaps to what one would expect.  We have gotten so used to living in an anxious world and anxious church that much of the time we don’t notice just how high the anxiety has actually gotten.

I’ve also been thinking about Confession and Forgiveness.  I’ve been pondering about how we rush through it each Sunday in worship. . . and I wonder. . . do believers really hear that they are forgiven?  Do they grasp the depth of that pronouncement, “I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Do we allow enough time for a bit of silence in worship where we can actually confess anything of substance?  Do we help folks understand what is actually happening in that moment as they are offered a new beginning, a clean slate, a second chance over and over again by our loving Father?  Do we say and hear those words so frequently that we have simply stopped listening to and absorbing them?

What would it be like if each and every week as forgiveness is pronounced we would look around see people expressions register such a look of relief that it was like all the pressure in the room simply went away?  “You are forgiven!”  “What a Relief!”

So here’s what I’m thinking. . . if we can help the saints make the connection between what is happening in worship- that they are being forgiven of all their sins– maybe they will actually embrace this new beginning each week. . . maybe they will feel such relief and joy. . . maybe they will know, really know, that those words are trustworthy and true and then they will be better equipped to offer grace and forgiveness to others.  I think that if the communion of saints totally embraced their forgiven-ness then the levels of anxiety in the church would drastically decrease.  If the saints then go out into their daily lives relieved, refreshed, in touch with their forgiven-ness then the way they “are” will affect others around them at work, school and in their neighborhoods.  There would be less anxiety in the world.

Just as anxiety is highly contagious, so too are peace, joy and love.  Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of awareness of what’s really going on for things to change for the better.

Oh and in case you missed it— You are Forgiven!  Amen.


One Comment leave one →
  1. 11October2011 09:13

    Thanks, Amy. Excellent post. This is one of those things we try to be very deliberate about here at Grace…and it does have (is having) an impact. Sure…there are some folks whose “amen” at the end is perfunctory. But there are also a growing number of those in whose voices you can hear a real sigh of relief. The acknowledgment of the forgiveness we receive seems to provide some additional motivation for the hymn of praise which follows…and that adds a measure of joyful movement there at the beginning of the liturgy. All in all…a great way to begin our sharing of Word and Meal. -David

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