Revival and the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Devotional Thought fo the Day:
5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Psalm 32:5 (NLT)
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NLT)
Since absolution or the power of the keys, which was instituted by Christ in the Gospel, is a consolation and help against sin and a bad conscience, confession and absolution should by no means be allowed to fall into disuse in the church, especially for the sake of timid consciences and for the sake of untrained young people who need to be examined and instructed in Christian doctrine
.126 You asked me to suggest a way for winning through in your daily struggles, and I replied: When you lay your soul open, say first of all what you wouldn’t like to be known. In this way the devil will always end up defeated. Lay your soul wide open, clearly and simply, so that the rays of God’s Love may reach and illuminate the last corner of it!
We used to refer to it as “Private Confession” in the Lutheran Church. Theologically we refer to it as COnfessiona and Absolution, with the emphasis on the Absolution part. The quote in green is from our confessions, where it is numbered among our sacraments, and in the minds of our forefathers, too great a treasure to forgo.
My brothers in the Roman Catholic church call this the Ministry of Reconciliation, and I have to admit I like that name as well. It reminds us what forgiveness does, it makes things right, it applies the blood of Christ to our brokenness, it brings healing, much-needed healing to souls damaged by guilt, shame and resentment which comes along with our sin and rebellion, It is the duty of the church, it is at the heart of its very mission, to pronounce this news of God’s mercy, of His care.
It is what brings life back, this far too overlooked sacrament, this anxious moment where we trust God enough to lay our soul wide open. It is then, as the Lord of Life, the Holy Spirit circumcises our heart with the power of God’s love, that all which hinders our life.
This is a ministry we all need, for we need the freedom that we find as Christ delivers us from sin and death, as He liberates us from the oppression that can so dominate our lives.
Luther makes it clear, that part of this ministry is too timid consciences, those that are unsure of God’s grace, those that are bruised and battered by their own lives, by their pasts, by the fear that they won’t be accepted by God, or by His people. That is no different today, as people will gradually talk to a pastor or priest, as if trying to see if the water is scalding or frigid, only to warm up and get to the heart of what troubles them.
They need our ministry, our time, out ears to hear their confessions, our mouths to say what they long to hear, our eyes and hearts to assure them that the forgiveness we speak, is not ours, but we speak it for Him.
Because this life-giving ministry was given to us.
To stand by their side, to encourage them to cry out to God, to cry out, “Lord, have mercy!”
And to know that He has had mercy… and will walk by their side in life.
(1) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 312). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press
(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 644-647). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on April 27, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Poiema, st josemaria escriva, The Forge, Theology in Practice and tagged absolution, apostolate, Apostolic, confession, forgiveness, Ministry, ministry of reconciliation, Missional, vocation. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.