Anglican Morning Devotion for 11 February 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
A GENERAL CONFESSION
¶ To be said by the whole Congregation, after the Minister, all kneeling.
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have
followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have
left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to
have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen. (1928 Book of Common Prayer)
In keeping with the spirit of communal worship, the General Confession is a prayer that can be uttered by every believer with meaning and faith. It is not a prayer manufactured by man, but of the Holy Scriptures and its truth. It asks for no personal grants, but of those things that pertain to every participant in the worship service. It is an act of reformed worship.
“ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father.” This is the Being to whom we address our every prayer if we expect an answer. “We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.” Who among us has not! Just as those merciless Jewish leaders who brought the woman caught in the very act of adultery dropped their stones and departed at the strong counsel of our Lord: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” (John 8:7-9) That woman must have, from that moment, loved the Lord with all her heart – and we all were that woman! Yes, we have all erred and strayed from the ways of the Lord, but grace aplenty is available to those who appeal to His grace and mercy for forgiveness. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, and we must be conscientious in repenting of those sins. When those close to us repent, we must forgive just as God forgives our sins repented of. “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3)
“We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws.” Our so-called ‘free wills’ belong to Satan and the world, but those who have taken upon themselves that Mind which was in Christ have the perfect law of liberty in their hearts. Their wills coincide with His will so that they are made free. Still we fall and falter. Who among us has not committed sin in the last month, week, day, or even hour – unless we have been sound asleep?
“We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;” Herein lies the crux and focus of my devotion to the Church today.
“ . . . . he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” (Mathew 25:32) I sadly suggest to you, friends, that perhaps as much as 90% of those on the church roles will be accounted among the goat-side of that equation. Why? What sins have they committed? I aver that the greater sins of the goat-side church members are not the sins they have committed, but those acts of love and mercy that they have omitted. The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a fine example of this. The Rich Man was not, in the eyes of the world, a great sinner for he neither robbed nor murdered; but he failed to comfort the less fortunate who lay right outside his gate. Those are the ones our Lord addresses in this passage. The sins mentioned in our General Confession are two only – sins of COMMISSION, and sins of OMISSION. The righteous will be moved by Christ-like compassion to offer love and mercy to the downtrodden, the sick, the widow, orphan, and prisoner. The unrighteous, who are Christians in name only, will omit to help such ones even if their lives appear above reproach insofar as open sin is concerned. All sin falls into one of the other of these two categories.
The Samaritan on the Road from Jericho was one despised by the Jews, yet it was only the Samaritan, and not the Jewish religious, who stopped to help the Jew who was robbed and broken at the point of death. We need no purple robes or silken garments to reflect the love of God. We may even be poor and famished of hunger ourselves, but offer our last mite to help another in need. That defines the saint of God. Love and mercy compel ACTION! Our Lord did not merely feel sorry for those who were lame, blind, lepers, or deaf – He ALWAYS had compassion on them which results from a love that overrules every other emotion.
Pride is a catalyst for both kinds of sins. The priest and Levite were too proud of their own presumed righteousness to help the Samaritan; and those who sinned in bringing the lone woman who committed adultery before Christ out of pride-motivated self-righteousness. To which category do you attribute your own sins – or is it BOTH?