“O God,” prays the Christian in an old joke, “it’s been a good day. I’ve been a good person today. I haven’t said an ill word to anyone, or had an unkind thought, or even a selfish impulse. It’s been a good day. But in a minute, I’m going to get out of bed . . . ”
Confession and absolution are faith essentials leading to tangible grace in the bread and cup of Holy Communion. In the Communion liturgy of my youth, 1 John 1:9 and 2 John 2:2 were among several scriptures the celebrant spoke with the introduction, “Hear what comfortable words the scriptures say to all that truly turn to the Lord.”
Bread. Cup. Sensory gifts Jesus provided on the night before his death when his closest followers would betray, deny, and abandon him. He washed their feet—another tactile sign of holy love—and offered them Eucharist, thanksgiving for a foretaste of the eternal banquet promised in his victory over death.
These gifts help us to see more clearly. Walking in the light as Christ is in the light, our steps illumined by divine radiance, gives us courage to believe that “if we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
One more thing: Sometimes our senses are compromised. My late mother became blind due to macular degeneration. When she was introduced to my future wife, she said, “Come close” and held my beloved’s face in her hands. With what peripheral vision remained, she declared, “You are beautiful.” So says God, even to sinful us, when we confess.
Lord of forgiveness, strengthen us to know and tell the truth about ourselves, that we may be cleansed by your love and fed by bread and wine, a foretaste of your resurrection banquet. Through him who died and rose again, Christ our Lord. Amen.
Easter promises us the possibility of new life in Christ, but what should that life look like? Scripture makes clear that one sign of union with God is unity with each other. How wonderful it is, the psalmist says, when there is peace among brothers and sisters. Unity and peace do not mean simply the lack of conflict but proactive care for one another. The Christians in Acts lived out this care in a practical way by giving of their material means to help one another. John in his epistle tells us that this fellowship is ultimately modeled on the fellowship we share with God and Christ, while in his Gospel, John teaches that belief in Jesus the Messiah is what binds us all together in this new life.
Read Acts 4:32-35. In what ways does your Christian community extend generosity to those within and those beyond the community?
Read Psalm 133. How do you experience God’s extravagant love for you? What is your response to this love?
Read 1 John 1:1–2:2. What experience of Christ have you “heard . . . seen . . . looked at . . . touched”? How do you share your experience of the risen Christ with others?
Read John 20:19-31. How do you relate to Thomas’s desire for tangible proof of the Resurrection?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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