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Archive for March 24th, 2011

Psalm 32:  1-5

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
Selah

5I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

A Reflection: The real saying is , “confession is good for the soul”.  This is most certainly true!  But note: the Psalmist above is  stating in his prayer that lack of confession has physically affected him and so confession  is good for the body as well.

The Lord  created  us body and soul.  The connective “and” is not an additive but it is unitive.  Lutheran Theologian Rev. Hermann Sasse (17 July 1895 – 9 August 1976) pointed out the unitive nature of men, created body and soul, and then pointed out that the Lord so gave us Holy Communion, His Body and Blood because, “…souls do not eat and bodies do not believe”.  When we keep what we have done or left undone inside, “all bottled up”, and think our trespass can be forgotten by any of us, then it goes “heavy” upon us soul and body.  The Law of God, “Your hand” is heavy upon us.    The Lord who is perfect is perfect in remembrance and in forgetfulness:  For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31: 34) Psalm 32 begins with the proclamation of the blessedness of the LORD who forgives.  His forgiveness is the basis of our confession and sorrow over sin and He forgives as if for the first time! In confession, we know again that the Lord has done the heavy lifting of our transgression upon His shoulders.  He did so for all to see and all to believe in one place:   on the Cross.   In His nail-imprinted hand, His hand lifts us up forgiven.

This is Christ’s authority to the Church, the Office of the Keys to forgive the sins of all who are penitent.

For further reading, below is the pertinent excerpt from Martin Luther’s The Small Catechism:

 

  • What is confession?
    Answer: Confession consists of two parts. One is that
    we confess our sins. The other is that we receive
    absolution or forgiveness from the confessor as from
    God Himself, by no means doubting but firmly believing
    that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in
    heaven.
  • What sins should we confess?
    Answer: Before God we should acknowledge that we
    are guilty of all manner of sins, even those of which
    we are not aware, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer.
    Before the confessor, however, we should confess only
    those sins of which we have knowledge and which
    trouble us.
  • What are such sins?
    Answer: Reflect on your condition in the light of
    the Ten Commandments: whether you are a father or
    mother, a son or daughter, a master or servant;
    whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, lazy,
    ill-tempered, or quarrelsome; whether you have harmed
    anyone by word or deed; and whether you have stolen,
    neglected, or wasted anything, or done other evil.
  • Please give me a brief form of confession.
    Answer: You should say to the confessor: “Dear
    Pastor, please hear my confession and declare that my
    sins are forgiven for God’s sake.”
    “Proceed.”
    “I, a poor sinner, confess before God that
    I am guilty of all sins. In particular I confess in
    your presence that, as a manservant or maidservant,
    etc., I am unfaithful to my master, for here and there
    I have not done what I was told. I have made my master
    angry, caused him to curse, neglected to do my duty,
    and caused him to suffer loss. I have also been
    immodest in word and deed. I have quarreled with my
    equals. I have grumbled and sworn at my mistress, etc.
    For all this I am sorry and pray for grace. I mean to
    do better.”
  • A master or mistress may say: “In
    particular I confess in your presence that I have not
    been faithful in training my children, servants, and
    wife to the glory of God. I have cursed. I have set a
    bad example by my immodest language and actions. I
    have injured my neighbor by speaking evil of
    him, overcharging him, giving him inferior goods and
    short measure.” Masters and mistresses should
    add whatever else they have done contrary to God’s
    commandments and to their action in life, etc.
  • If, however, anyone does not feel that his
    conscience is burdened by such or by greater sins, he
    should not worry, nor should he search for and invent
    other sins, for this would turn confession into
    torture; he should simply mention one
    or two sins of which he is aware. For example,
    “In particular I confess that I once cursed.
    On one occasion I also spoke indecently. And I
    neglected this or that,” etc. Let this
    suffice.
  • If you have knowledge of no sin at all (which is
    quite unlikely), you should mention none in
    particular, but receive forgiveness upon the general
    confession which you make to God in
    the presence of the confessor.
  • Then the confessor shall say: “God be
    merciful to you and strengthen your faith.
    Amen.”
  • Again he shall say: “Do you believe that
    this forgiveness is the forgiveness of God?”
    Answer: “Yes, I do.”
  • Then he shall say: “Be it done for you as
    you have believed. According to the
    command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you your
    sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
    the Holy Spirit. Amen. Go in
    peace.”
  • A confessor will know additional passages of the
    Scriptures with which to comfort and to strengthen the
    faith of those whose consciences are heavily burdened
    or who are distressed and sorely tried. This is
    intended simply as an ordinary form of confession for
    plain people.

 


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