Yesterday evening we had a session at the Cathedral on Presiding at the Eucharist, led by the Canon Precentor. Inevitably, one didn't quite agree with everything. But there were some very interesting snippets from a man who knows his liturgical history.
Following confession in most Anglican services, the minister's absolution/assurance of forgiveness has two forms - Lord have mercy upon you, or upon us. Which to use?
In most of the evangelical churches I've been in, us is preferred. It shows the minister includes himself with the congregation as a sinner in need of forgiveness. And the assumption is that they you form is a bit too Catholic.
How ironic then, to discover last night, that the us form is an innovation the Church of England has borrowed from Rome!
In the 1960s (isn't it always?), the Vatican introduced the us form. They were concerned that the number of penitents attending confession was falling, and they wanted to make clear that the "absolution" offered in corporate worship was of a lesser order than the real absolution given by the priest in the sacrament of penance.
Now, of course we don't believe in the sacrament of penance, nor that the presbyter has that sort of power of absolution. However, the Reformed have always believed in the power of the keys - that the ordained ministers of the church are given the authority to declare Christ's forgiveness to the people. So it would be perfectly in order, and not at all Roman, for an evangelical minister to pronounce after corporate confession,
The Lord have mercy upon YOU.