Devotional thought of the day:
27 So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. 31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. 32 Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 (NLT)
72 If you are heavy-laden and feel your weakness, go joyfully to the sacrament and receive refreshment, comfort, and strength. 73 If you wait until you are rid of your burden in order to come to the sacrament purely and worthily, you must stay away from it forever.
142 If you are really fighting, you need to make an examination of conscience. Take care of the daily examination: find out if you feel the sorrow of Love, for not getting to know Our Lord as you should.
If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world
We don’t talk about it much, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic or those of us somewhere in between.
Because of the pressures of time, we don’t take the time we need for it either. This practice that would lead us to appreciate the sacraments better that would make more vivid and real what it means to be promised that our sins are forgiven and removed.
For I think we fall into two categories when it comes to sin.
We dismiss it, because, after all, our sin isn’t as great as “their” sin. I mean – look at the world, their sin is so much greater than ours, and they proudly flaunt their sin in front of all the world.
Or they are so crushed by it, they can’t imagine that God would ever notice their pitiful existence, never mind welcome them into His presence, nor spend the time and patience to create something holy and sacred, while removing all that mars the beauty He created in them.
That is where this idea of the “Examination of Conscience” comes into play. It is a time to think about our sin, and the struggles we have in our faith. Not to add to the guilt and shame, though we may shudder a bit as we really think through how much we have done wrong. But in examining our conscience, in taking the time to realize how often we push God away and put ourselves in His place, we begin to realize how incredible His love for us is. We begin to realize what He has saved us from, and then we appreciate more what He has saved us to experience. Being in the presence, sharing in the glory of God. This is what an examination of conscience leads to, as it allows us to realize our need for Christ.
I sometimes think we think of salvation, of God’s deliverance of us from sin like a lifeguard saving us from a near drowning experience. We needed the salvation, because we couldn’t calm down, we couldn’t overcome the waves of life. Examination of our conscience reveals to us that we’ve been saved from drowning, not in a simple rip current, but as we opened the front door of our submarine a mile under the ocean.
And there, in the depths, we find the cross, we find the blood of Christ, we find salvation, a rescue we so need. Even us who count on so many other things to save us, or count on them to have proven we’ve been saved. Examination of conscience removes all such illusion.
That’s why Luther advises us not to wait until we are holy enough to run to where God’s grace is poured out on us. Because if we wait, we will never be good enough, we will never be free enough, for it is at the baptismal font that we find our peace. It is at the altar we find the promise of God’s love, it is as the pastor pronounces our sin forgiven, that we realize the height, depth, width and breadth of God’s love for us. It is an awe-inspiring ride, from the depths of despair to the heights of highest joy.
This is the love of God, for you!
So take the time, examine your conscience, and know the love of God which truly rescues you. AMEN
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 455). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 794-796). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s Works, vol. 48: Letters I. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 48, pp. 281–282). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.