The Prayers of the People of God.
After the reading of Holy Scripture and the sermon and Creed are completed we enter into prayer. We pray for the ministry of the Church world-wide, for her members and mission. We pray for our nation, our government, and the local concerns of Fort Worth, Texas where we minister the Gospel. We pray for the sick, the suffering, the lonely and the needy and for the repose of those who have died.
As a community of faith we invite Jesus into our soul and entrust ourselves to His Way. This is a moment of exercising our faith. Faith means to put our trust in God. We know that the prayers and intentions of our heart are used by God to work His good and peace in the hearts of others. We should never under estimate the power and importance of our prayers.
Following our prayers we offer our confession of sin to God. Sacramental confession is placed in the holy Eucharist to be a “reflective moment of decision” if one is ready to go forward and receive Christ in Holy Communion. Confession must emerge from a contrite heart. If our heart is “hardened” the grace the Holy Spirit offers in absolution has little opportunity to help us. But with a contrite heart we are in a position to receive God’s mercy.
Sacramental absolution can only be offered by a priest or bishop. Jesus left power to His Church to absolve sinners who truly repent and believe sincerely in Jesus Christ. Absolution is the mercy of the Father given to us through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. It fully restores to our soul baptismal grace or “sanctifying” grace and readies us to receive all the benefits of our Lord’s Passion in Holy Communion.
Following confession and absolution is the offering of the peace of Christ, or sometimes called the “exchange” of peace.
By offering the peace of Christ we are acknowledging from where that peace comes. We acknowledge to one another that each Christian is meant to be like Jesus. With Him we are nailed on the cross, with Him we are laid in the tomb, with Him we are raised up to accompany lost travelers on their journey.
Becoming like Christ, leads us to deeper conversion. It ushers us deeper into the Kingdom. There the old distinctions between happiness and sadness, success and failure, praise and blame, health and sickness, life and death, no longer exist. There we no longer belong to the world that keeps dividing, judging, separating, and evaluating. There we belong to Christ and Christ to us, and He is our peace.