Struggling with your past and present? Something that will help!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
8 If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. 9 On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. 1 John 1:8-9 (MSG)
16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. James 5:16 (MSG)
22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:22-23 (TEV)
The priest mentioned the sacrament of confession. That was new to me. The confessional in our parish church had been transformed into a storage room for buckets and brooms. I had always thought that confession had been abolished in the sixties. That evening, I asked the Carmelite sister about it. “On the contrary,” she said. “Confession has not been abolished at all. It’s one of the most beautiful sacraments there is!” “So… um… how does it work?” I asked. “Do you just tell the priest all your sins, and that’s it?” “It isn’t just about listing your sins,” she answered. “Confession is first and foremost an encounter with Christ. He loves you more than you know, and when you truly meet him, you start to discover what in your life stands in the way of that love. So you entrust all those obstacles to his mercy, and he takes them away.” “If that’s the case, I would love to go to confession,” I said. After all, I did like Jesus. I also knew that there were many things in my life that still needed to change to be able to deepen my friendship with him. “Just go see the priest, and ask him to help you. He will guide you through it. Don’t worry about a thing.” That evening, I made my first confession. The priest was friendly and listened to me with his eyes closed, as if praying. I do not recall what he said to me afterward, but I do remember vividly the moment he stretched out his hand and told me my sins had been forgiven. It was as if a ton of bricks just had been zapped to another dimension. I felt like I was walking on air— I was so light, so relieved, so incredibly happy. That night, I hardly slept. I felt overwhelmed by God’s love for me. My doubts had vanished. I didn’t just believe in God on an intellectual level— I sensed that I had just met him personally. (1)
As I was reading this book, I came across the above passage, and though a little long, it talks so well of something so needed. There are too many of us dealing with the repurcussions of sin, the guilt and shame from doing what we know we shouldn’t. The confusion we get when the games we play to avoid that shame come crashing down, and even the stress caused by the way we react to others sinning against us.
Roman Catholics call it the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we use a more common term, Private Confession and Absolution. Basically, whether very formal at the altar, or in my office, someone comes in, and shares about the guilt they feel, or some area where they know they’ve done wrong. As this happens, it is awkward, both for the person coming to me and for me. We talk, the person and I and God, and then a time as precious as we get occurs.
But I love Fr. Roderick’s description of what Lutherans call Private Confession above (see the 5th section of Luther’s Small Catechism) …and what Catholics call The Sacrament of Reconciliation (or commonly Confessin) that I had to share it. For even with our differences in our practice and application of this, the effect is the same. As God and the person and the pastor/priest are talking through the sins that afflct them, there is some holy and sacred and freeing that happens. As a pastor I see the burdens lifted, when I get to pronounce them free of the chains by wihich sin oppresses them. There is a great sense of joy and freedom. It’s hard to describe, either from the point of view of the person confessing, or as the pastor (and I think priests feel the same way) who speaks forgiveness as God has commanded us to speak. Even though I don’t get to serve people this way as often as they need. need,
Let’s face it, we all have a past, and we all still live in the present. We deal with sin daily, our own, the sins of those close to us, the sins of generations passed, as the divisions they cause impact our lives still. Too often, rather than obeying God and giving these heavy, heavy burdens to Him, we bury them and stew over them. The anxiety, confusion and grief burdens us more, divides us from others more, and can crush us…
If you are in that situaiton, I beg you, on God’s behalf, let God reconcile you to Himself. (2 Cor. 5:20) Come to one of us, those who know God’s forgiveness. With the Catholic Church and with some Lutheran churches- they often post times the priest/pastor sets aside for this. Others of us have an open policy – just call, drop in and let us know you need the peace and rest this sacrament brings. You will not be imposing… matter of fact, you will make our day. Don’t worry about us being shocked – St Paul has a good point when he says if God can save us, you guys are a peace of cake!
Dump that guilt and shame, be rid of that burden of grief, trust God as His word! And realize the depth of Christ’s love for you, that He would restore you and show you His love.
Vonhögen, Roderick (2013-09-09). Geekpriest: Confessions of a New Media Pioneer (Kindle Locations 658-674). Franciscan Media. Kindle Edition.
Posted on November 4, 2013, in Devotions and tagged Freedom, Geekpriest, God, guilt, HolySpirit, Lutheran, peace, private confession, rest, Sacrament of Penance (Catholic Church), shame, sin, Small Catechism. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.