Last week I began to make some comments on how our Anglican communion service explains the gospel so well, following a similar pattern to Two Ways to Live. The first point is that God is our Creator, to whom we are absolutely accountable. The next salient fact, which I will focus on today, is that all of us fall short of the standard God requires. We are sinners.
Most people are willing to admit that they are not perfect. We often fall short of the standards we set for ourselves. But to admit to being a “sinner” is more than that. It is to admit that that the standard which matters is not the one we set for ourselves, but the one God sets. It is also to admit that our failure is not just because “nobody’s perfect”, but because we have rejected God’s right to rule our lives. Sin is personal. The dark reality underlying our simple rule-breaking is the proud desire to be my own god. This is clear from the Garden of Eden story. At one level, Adam and Eve simply broke a rule about which fruit to eat. But they were attracted to the fruit by the chance to be “like God”. This rejection of God, and grasp for his power, is something we have all taken part in.
That is why our communion service takes us straight from the reality of God to the reality of sin, in the confession prayer. This prayer gives us the chance to acknowledge to God that “we have sinned against you”, and that “we have not loved you with our whole heart”. It’s a prayer which is only possible because we know that God is ready to forgive – but more on that in coming weeks!