Archive for February 28th, 2017

“Shrove” is not a word in much use these days except for today:  Shrove Tuesday:

Shrove, past tense of shrive: Shrive; verb (used with object), shrove or shrived, shriven or shrived,shriving.

  • impose penance on (a sinner).

  • grant absolution to (a penitent).

  • hear the confession of (a person).

  • to hear confessions.

  • to go to or make confession; confess one’s sins, as to a priest.

People in droves bought the book about Christian ‘spirituality’, The Purpose-Driven Life, but few would buy a book titled, “The Shriven Driven Life”. So many supposedly ‘Christian’ books are about how to be deliriously happy, your “best life now” without the reality life in the Lord is a shriven life:  repentant, confessing sins and the need for the Lord’s absolution. The old 11th Century Hymn, “Alleluia, Song of Gladness” to the point, third stanza (another translation):

Alleluia we deserve not
Here to chant forevermore;
Alleluia our transgressions
Make us for a while give o’er;
For the holy time is coming
Bidding us our sins deplore.

Shrive is from the German, “to write”.  His Word written into our hearts and souls so to repent and live in Christ  We are in a spiritual war.  When we heard of the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians on the Libyan shore, or any of the martyrs in Christ, then “your best life now” is  such a shallow narcissistic idea. When the thief on the cross, to Jesus’ right, confessed and then prayed, Jesus, remember me when me when You come into Your Kingdom, he was shriven.  Jesus said:  Truly, today you will be with Me in paradise. When we dwell on our own faults, we despair and the Lord says, Lift up your hearts: penitent, pained…and hold His promise to forgive close to your heart.   

“Beat down Satan lower and lower and lift up Christ higher and higher” That is part of a hymn sung by Lutherans in Papua, New Guinea.  We can sing it because Jesus Christ has done the heavy lifting:  our sins in His Body on the Tree of the Cross.  It is ashes on the forehead but it is the Sign of the Cross.  Shriven and forgiven. There is only One Who could literally cross the abyss from the Holy LORD to sinners in rebellion:  the One Who became our dust and ashes.  Jesus Christ is the second Adam, the man from Heaven.  (See 1 Corinthians 15:  45-49)  “In this Christian Church, He fully forgives my sins and sins of all believers.” (From Martin Luther’s explanation of the 3rd article of the Creed).  And when sin weighs you down, the mirror of the Law shows a less than a pretty picture.  When sin weighs you down, come to Jesus Christ where and when He said He will be:  This is My Body, This is My Blood.  When sins weighs you down, (and Satan wants to beat you lower and lower to drive you away from the Lord), pastors are called to hear confession in utter confidentiality  and offer the Lord’s own forgiveness to you personally in your ears and in your hearts (see St. John 20:  22-23;  1 John 1: 8-10). When sin has undone you, cast it off and then flee to the Lord for refuge for His infinite mercy given in His Son. 

As it is written in 2 Peter, the Lord has given us precious and very great promises, as we were cleansed from our former sins in Holy Baptism. The Apostle Peter continued:

 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Lent is about that growth, not to be redeemed, but as we are the Lord’s redeemed.  Who we are  is Who’s we are.  Who’s we are is who we become. We are shriven and forgiven. The life in Christ is His forgiven driven life. The promise is that as we heard from 2 Peter, “we will never fall”, that is, fall away from the Lord. We will fail in sin and so shrive because in the middle of the ashes, there is the Cross.  In the midst of death, there is Life. In the midst of sin, there is the risen Savior.

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