One of my favorite prayers as a Catholic child was the prayer the begins each mass, the prayer of the Penitential Act. It is the prayer of the confession that began each Sunday for me as a child and a moment where I felt seen and loved and absolved, in all my imperfection.
I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault. In my thoughts and in my words. In what I have done and in what I have failed to do. And I ask Blessed Mary ever Virgin, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
As a Unitarian Universalist, I’ve wondered what it means to sin and be forgiven. What exactly is a sin? And who does the forgiving?
In 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, Paul writes about being reconciled to God. This sort of forgiveness, the kind that results in reconciliation with the holy, made sense to me. And in a sermon I gave on this text (titled “A Ministry of Reconciliation”) I rewrote the prayer of the Penitential Act.
I confess to my creator, and to you my community, that I have missed the mark. In all the ways, in thoughts and words, in my actions and in my complacency. And I ask you to pray on my behalf. Come to the aid of my soul. That I may be reconciled once again to the holy.
Ultimately, a prayer seeking forgiveness is asking that our community hold us accountable and help us to find unity and peace within ourselves once again. Help me reconcile myself to that which is most holy, most sacred to me. This is the sort of forgiveness I am seeking as a Unitarian Universalist. This is our ministry of reconciliation.