Reflecting on sin and confession during Lent

One of the toughest things for contemporary Christians to do is to acknowledge their sin.  The pervading culture does its best to devalue or even deny the existence of sin.  The lesson that even though you are a “good person” you are still a sinner, is a difficult one to teach to young people in a confirmation class, or to someone of any age. But it is vital that we acknowledge our sins in order to open ourselves to God’s mercy.  For if we approach God with a contrite heart, He indeed is merciful.  I encourage you to read the first two chapters of John’s First Epistle for more context about this.
In Lent we bring a specific focus to our sinful condition and how it all fits into our relationship with the redeeming Lord.  Part of that Lenten focus is the collection of Penitential Psalms. The Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Confession, so named in Cassiodorus's commentary from the 6th century, are the Psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142.  These Psalms are expressive of sorrow for sins. In Psalm 32 David finds great relief and joy after finally confessing his sins before God.  At first the wicked acts committed by him went unacknowledged causing great physical and mental anguish. But David has a change of heart:

"I acknowledged my sin unto thee; * and mine unrighteousness have I not hid.
I said, I will confess my sins unto the LORD; * and so thou forgavest the wickedness of my sin."
There is great relief and blessedness when we come to our senses, recognize our sins no matter how great or small, and speak directly to God. We should remember that we cannot hide our sins from God, as He knows us completely. By His grace God helps us to recognize our sin, and he waits for us to come to Him, so that we can be absolved and restored. 
In Psalm 51, often associated with Psalm 32, David gives us a glimpse of benefits of confession.  After admitting his sin, David prays for full absolution and redemption:
"Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness,* that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Turn thy face from my sins, * and put out all my misdeeds.
Make me a clean heart, O God, * and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence, * and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
O give me the comfort of thy help again, * and stablish me with thy free Spirit."
The Psalms present a template for us to confess our sins, and St. John succinctly summarizes this necessity for confession:
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1 v8-9).
Throughout his first epistle, John focuses on the indwelling of God within us. Denial of our sins shuts the door to our hearts and the Divine indwelling cannot occur, cutting us off from Christ, the Spirit, the Truth and His Word. If these things do not abide in us, then we do not have life nor a union with the One who is life. In this state of denial, we turn our backs on the Divine gifts won for us at Calvary.  This Lent, when you are contemplating The Way of the Cross or Christ’s Passion, consider the folly of humanity when we deny the gifts offered to us by these events:  all of our brokenness fixed by the ultimate sacrifice.  Christ walked and suffered the Via Dolorosa so that we might walk in the Light.  Why would we not accept this trade?
We must remember these three simple truths about confession and sin:

1. Confession speaks of the love of sins forgiven.
2. Confession expresses our repentance and acceptance of God’s forgiveness.
3. God designed Confession to be a blessing.  A special gift that binds us forever unto Him.
So no matter the sin nor the amount of sin… do not let that be an impediment to forgiveness.  We are worthy of God’s forgiveness and Love.  The way is clear and straight, we just have follow the path to the Light as David did in Psalm 32.  

-- Fr. Deacon Chris

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
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This evening (Friday) 7:00 PM -- Stations of the Cross and Lenten Supper

Sunday Services, 7:45 AM, 9:00 AM, & 11:15 AM (for online participation for the services go to: )

Sunday School, 10:30 AM

Monday March 25, 7:30 PM, Vestry meeting, members of the parish are always welcome

Wednesday, 12 noon, Holy Communion and anointing for healing, (for online participation for the service go to: )

Wednesday, 7:30 PM, Bible study with Father Bragg, church undercroft, "The Gospel of Saint Mark in the World of Saint Mark"

Thursday, 7:00PM, Maundy Thursday service, (for online participation for the service go to: )

Good Friday, 12 noon and 7:00 PM Services: The Sacrament of Penance will be offered 1 hour prior to each Good Friday service. (for online participation for the services go to: ).

SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, April 13, 11:00 AM, Ordination of Fr. Deacon Christopher John Fish to the priesthood, followed by reception in undercroft

Sunday, April 14, Visitation of the Diocesan Bishop, The Right Reverend Donald Lerow: Please let the Rector know if you wish to be received or confirmed so proper arrangements can be made.

Saturday, April 20, MEN'S GROUP, 8:30 AM, breakfast by Chef Extraordinaire Claude Crump, Grits by Fr. Roddy, Bible study by Fr. Bragg.  Great food, Bible study and fellowship

Food Donations
Please help this month with a food donation if you are able. Christ House is very thankful for the food we provide to them each month. Please also buy low sugar cereals (and not the kid's types that have lots of sugar).  Current needs include the following:
• canned meats (chicken, corned beef, spam)
• peanut butter
• jelly
• tuna
• canned vegetables (corn, green beans - (regular and low sodium)
• individual fruit cups (low sugar)
• canned fruit (low sugar)
• cereal (low sugar)
• pasta (regular and gluten-free)
• instant potatoes
• Macaroni & cheese kits
• Coffee, cooking oil, flour, sugar

List of Needs for MaRIH Center (crisis pregnancy center)
MaRIH Center with its all volunteer staff provides help to mothers-to-be and mothers in need.  If you can provide some of the items that are needed, please do so. (You can leave the donations where the food for the food bank is collected on the pew in the undercorft.)

Especially Needed
 In Bold and  * are a critical need.

Diapers (sizes newborn, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5*, & 6*)
Baby wipes*
Diaper rash ointment
Spring/Summer Clothing: 0-3 month*, 3-6 month*, 2T
Baby shampoo
Baby blankets*
Formula: Simulac Advance Formula*
Formula: other but not recalled
Wash clothes
Hooded towels
Grocery gift cards*

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St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland
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