Rector’s Ramblings, Propers, and Announcements for IV Trinity – 2 July 2023
- The Propers and Hymns for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity
- YouTube link for the live-stream of our 10:30 service
- Announcements for the week of July 2nd, 2023
- Rector’s Ramblings: On Private Confession
The Propers for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity.
The Book of Common Prayer, 1928.
O GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Psalm 91: Qui habitat
WHOSO dwelleth under the defence of the Most High, * shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say unto the LORD, Thou art my hope, and my stronghold; * my God, in him will I trust.
3 For he shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunter, * and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall defend thee under his wings, and thou shalt be safe under his feathers; * his faithfulness and truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for any terror by night, * nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 For the pestilence that walketh in darkness, * nor for the sickness that destroyeth in the noon-day.
7 A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand at thy right hand; * but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Yea, with thine eyes shalt thou behold, * and see the reward of the ungodly.
9 For thou, LORD, art my hope; * thou hast set thine house of defence very high.
10 There shall no evil happen unto thee, * neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, * to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee in their hands, * that thou hurt not thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt go upon the lion and adder: * the young lion and the dragon shalt thou tread under thy feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him; * I will set him up, because he hath known my Name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will hear him; * yea, I am with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and bring him to honour.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, * and show him my salvation.
Old Testament Lesson. Lamentations 3:22-33.
IT is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.
The Epistle. Rom. viii. 18.
I RECKON that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
The Gospel. St. Luke vi. 36.
BE ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.
Processional 141 My Country ’tis of Thee
Sermon 334 In the hour of trial
Recessional 282 Praise My soul
Link to the YouTube Live-stream of our Sunday service – 10:30 a.m.:
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Announcements for Sunday, July 2, 2023
If you are visiting us – Welcome to Christ Church Anglican, Southern Pines! Thank you for being with us. We are very pleased to have you, and we hope that your worship here is a blessing to you. Please sign the guest book on the table in the narthex, and provide appropriate contact information. Include your email address in order to be placed on our parish email list: you won’t be bombarded with mail, but it’s a good way to keep in touch. And may God bless you!
Independence Day (the “Fourth of July”) – For a long time, Anglicans were a bit ambivalent regarding how or whether to incorporate Independence Day into our liturgical calendar, but since the issuing of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, it has become an official part of our calendar, so it is not out of line to wish everyone a very happy Independence Day! And it has never been contrary to either the faith or good order to pray for our nation: indeed, it is biblically enjoined upon us to do so.
Some examples of placing our nation under the Lordship of God in Christ include (but are not limited to) “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12), “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14), “I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:1-2), and of course, our Lord’s own dictum, recorded in Mark 12:17 and elsewhere, that we “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” With respect to our this good land that God has given us, the Prayer Book says it best in the Collect for Independence Day (p. 263):
O eternal God, through whose mighty power our fathers won their liberties of old; Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Vestry Summer “Sabbatical” – It has long been the custom at Christ Church for the Vestry to take a month off from meeting, during the summer; and July, at the height of the “vacation season,” seems the most logical month to do that! Accordingly, there will not be a regularly scheduled Saturday meeting of the Vestry next month. If there is anything that needs urgently to be acted upon, it will be discussed via email and voted upon during a brief special meeting, held following the Sunday service (assuming a quorum is present), as we have done in the past. Many thanks to all our Vestry members for your faithful and dedicated service! Enjoy your break, and we will resume our regularly scheduled monthly meetings in August, to prepare for the resumption of our program year in September.
Holy Days and Commemorations this Week:
Monday, July 3rd – Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Old Calendar – pre-1969; transferred from Sunday, July 2nd)
Tuesday, July 4th – Independence Day (US)
Rector’s Ramblings: On Private (Auricular, Sacramental) Confession
“And because it is requisite that no man should come to the Holy Communion, but with a full trust in God’s mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore, if there be any of you, who by this means [examination of conscience, personal repentance, and reconciliation with anyone wronged] cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other Minister of God’s Word, and open his grief, that he may receive such godly counsel and advice, as may tend to the quieting of his conscience, and the removal of all scruple and doubtfulness.”
— Exhortation, p. 86 of the Book of Common Prayer
As Father Terrence pointed out in his sermon last Sunday, private confession – also known as auricular confession, sacramental confession, or (my preferred term), the reconciliation of a penitent – is one of the ministries that are available to congregants, either from Fr. Terrence or myself.
We will be available after the service on Sundays, and – as I mentioned last Sunday – at other times as well, at need. And Fr. Terrence has particularly volunteered to make himself available to serve in this capacity. As he is trained, educated, and with (if I recall correctly) some 30 years of experience, in pastoral counseling, I am particularly grateful for his willingness to “take point” on this ministry; but that does mean you cannot come to me, if you so desire. In fact, you are warmly invited to do so, should you feel the need of counsel and comfort, and the assurance of God’s pardon. We both stand ready to assist!
Private confession is also known as “auricular” (“by ear”) confession, because it is spoken verbally, and heard with the ears of one’s confessor; as distinct from that mode of confession and repentance with which we are all familiar, which is made in one’s heart and mind, and is shared only with God – secretly and usually silently. It is also called “sacramental confession” because it has, for centuries, been seen in the church as a sacramental action in which the priest pronounces God’s absolution of whatever sin or sins may have been confessed.
For Anglicans, what constitutes “sacramental” can be a hot-button topic! The Articles of Religion, which express the classical, historic, and traditional Anglican theological understanding, list only two full-fledged sacraments, the two which were instituted by Christ Himself when He walked among us: that is, Baptism and the Holy Communion, which are therefore often known as “dominical” (from the Latin word for “Lord”) or “Gospel” sacraments.
But we have traditionally also recognized what that same article (Article XXV, p. 607 in the 1928 BCP) refers to as the “five commonly called Sacraments” – Confirmation, Penance (which we are discussing here), Holy Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction (originally anointing at the point of death, but also, by extension, anointing for healing) – as having grown up in the Church under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Constitution and Canons of the ACC, of which our Diocese of the Holy Cross is a constituent member, as well as the Affirmation of St. Louis, refer to all seven as sacraments.
Given that the definition of a sacrament is an outward and visible sign (verbal confession and penitence, followed by the declaration and pronouncement of God’s pardon) of an inward and spiritual grace (God’s actual pardon, absolution, and remission of the penitent’s sins), this seems a reasonable conclusion! However, it is worth noting that the practice itself did not become part of the church’s tradition until the 7th century: prior to that penance was public, very rigorous, and limited to those who had committed particularly grave sins after their Baptism (for example, idolatry, murder, or adultery).
It has not been a large feature of Anglican practice for at least two reasons: 1) it is not found in the Holy Scriptures (see “Gospel Sacraments,” above), and 2) unlike the traditional Roman (and, as far as I know, Eastern Orthodox) liturgies, we have a form of public, corporate confession, together with the pronunciation of absolution, in all three of our major liturgical services: the Holy Communion, and the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, all include a Confession of Sins, followed by a declaration of absolution (pp.7, 24, and 77).
For these reasons, it is not required, as it is in the Roman Church. Nonetheless, it remains an option, as noted above: “if there be any of you, who by this means… cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other Minister of God’s Word, and open his grief, that he may receive such godly counsel and advice, as may tend to the quieting of his conscience, and the removal of all scruple and doubtfulness.”
It is for this reason that I like the term, “reconciliation of a penitent,” for the practice is about more than simply confessing one’s sins, being given some sort of set penance to perform (debatable in Anglican theology, since works do not impute righteousness, although permissible as a sign of penitence and act of thanksgiving), and receiving absolution. Rather, it is about seeking healing, of heart, mind, and spirit, in companionship with one’s priest – who, as Fr. Terrence also mentioned, is functioning as one’s anamcara (also spelled anam cara), or “soul-friend.”
With regard to who ought to seek such private confession, reconciliation, and absolution, the typical Anglican rule of thumb is – as I mentioned last Sunday – “all may… some should… none must.” That covers the matter pretty well, I think! Some folks like to engage in the practice as a way of “wiping clean the slate” at certain times during the liturgical year, as for example at the beginning of Advent or Lent, during Holy Week, or prior to Christmas Communion; while others have some specific issue, or issues, troubling them that seem to require a more direct and personal response than the General Confession provides. Please feel free to talk to either Fr. Terrence or me, if you would like to discuss the matter in more detail!
For some people, their confessor is also their spiritual director (see “anamcara,” above); however, one of the most gifted proponents and explicators of pastoral care and ascetical theology in the Anglican tradition, Fr. Martin Thornton – author of a number of books, including Christian Proficiency, Pastoral Theology: A Reorientation, and English Spirituality: An Outline of Ascetical Theology According to the English Pastoral Tradition – recommended that one’s confessor and one’s spiritual director ought not be the same person.
I believe a good argument can be made for either approach; but if compelled to choose (and with all due respect to the late Fr. Thornton, whose thought I greatly admire), I think I would lean toward the anamcara position – again, on the basis that the whole point of confession is that it’s about reconciliation: with God, with the Christian community, and with one’s own conscience, and not about juridical, legalistic, or punitive issues, and is part of one’s overall walk with Christ. This is a perspective which seems clearly expressed in the excerpt from the Exhortation I opened with, above.
Nonetheless, this is a case where one size does not necessarily fit all, and different individuals may be more or less comfortable with different approaches: just one of many areas in which traditional Anglicanism does not take the legalistic “this and this alone is how you do it” approach of some branches of the Christian tree. I know, I know – “Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes,” as Tolkien put it! But human beings are complex creatures, and square pegs should not be hammered into round holes, or vice versa.
In any case, I thought it would be useful to offer some additional reflections on this important subject, and I hope that this has been of some use to you! As I say, please feel free to speak with either Fr. Terrence or myself, if you need more information – and certainly if you wish to avail yourself of this ministry. As another source has put it,
“if, in your preparation, you need help and counsel, then go and open your grief to a discreet and understanding priest, and confess your sins, that you may receive the benefit of absolution, and spiritual counsel and advice; to the removal of scruple and doubt, the assurance of pardon, and the strengthening of your faith.”
May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, as you continue in your walk with Him.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Fr. Tom Harbold
Phone: (910) 246-0955
750 Fairway Drive, Southern Pines
At the intersection of Aiken Road and Fairway Drive.
Christ Church Anglican
750 Fairway Dr,
Southern Pines, NC 28387