The old familiar cadence of the Bidding to Repentance from the Prayer Book seizes my heart and mind in this season; this morning. It is said that oft-repeated phrases lead to paralysis of the soul—meaningless repetition (even though Jesus was not teaching about the reputation of Scripture or Biblical liturgy, but rather heathen practices that suppose there is merit to be gained in such repitition). Yet, the older I get the more I am drawn to the well-conceived, ancient-yet-always-new phrases of the Book of Common Prayer, the Book of Common Worship, and other Lord’s Day liturgies that are, at once, uncompromisingly Scriptural and wisely pastoral. This morning, I could move no farther in devotions but this Bidding to Repentance. The pastoral invitation unmasks any pretentious spiritual veneer while unveiling the gracious divine nature of the covenant-keeping Lord who welcomes me. Confession that is authentic becomes possible.
Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters: I offer a bidding to you, today, to repent of your sins and to confess your sins, using these powerful words:
DEARLY beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness; and that we should not dissemble nor cloak them before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father; but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same, by his infinite goodness and mercy . . .(BCP 1928).