IT IS heartening to hear a Reformed pastor in the Netherlands come out in favor of the sacrament of reconciliation ("Bring back confession," News, Aug. 11-18).
Confession need not be seen as something esoteric or authoritarian. The first rubric to the reconciliation of a penitent in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer establishes the context for this rite. "The ministry of reconciliation, which has been committed by Christ to his Church, is exercised through the care each Christian has for others, through the common prayer of Christians assembled for public worship, and through the priesthood of the Church and its ministers declaring absolution." Confession is one activity among many that apply the reconciling work of Christ to specific situations.
There's much to learn about confession from the Roman Catholic perspective and experience. But any church rediscovering this practice ought to consider every tradition in which sacramental confession is a living reality, including Anglicanism and the various Eastern churches, and then allow its own practice to develop under the guidance of scripture and sanctified common sense. Beyond that, all of us can learn from instances of reconciliation in public and private where, even if his name is never spoken, Christ is active.
The millennium is based on the coming of Christ 2,000 years ago. Perhaps many are starting to recognize that he joined the human race not simply to live, die and rise, or even to save us from our sins, but to reconcile all people with God and one another. That reconciliation is both our greatest need and our greatest hope.
Charles Hoffacker St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Port Huron, Mich.
Church on the Web...
I WAS gratified to read Michael L. Keene's article "The church on the Web" (Aug. 11-18). Here are two more opportunities for pastors who preach from the lectionary:
Sermonshop on Ecunet: If you wish to receive sermonshop, send a note to sermonshop-request@ecunet. …