Reflections: September 22, 2021
Wednesday of the 16th Week after Trinity
By Kyle Mietzner
Confession has two parts. (Small Catechism: Office of the Keys)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The entirety of the Christian life, and life in general, is summed up in this little phrase: Confession has two parts. That's it! I bring my sins to Jesus and Jesus forgives me. I contribute nothing to my salvation except my sins, which are forgiven in the Name of Jesus. I bring death and Jesus brings life. We often make the mistake of thinking that our life should be lived perfectly, when really it is meant to be lived in forgiveness. I am not perfect, but Jesus Christ is, and His perfection is given to me.
The Church practiced confession in a very different way prior to the Reformation. There used to be three parts to confession: contrition, confession, and penance. It was believed that you had to feel really bad about your sins, and then do something in order to earn the Absolution. Most often you would just have to say a bunch of prayers or go to church. It is even taught in some places today that you can earn Absolution simply by walking through a particular door at a particular time. We humans are very good at inventing ways to get rid of our sins, but these methods look past and away from Jesus.
If my forgiveness depends on my level of feeling bad about my sins or how many prayers I can say in order to earn Absolution, I'll never feel bad enough or say enough prayers. My sins are much worse than I think they are, and the mercy of Christ is much more than I will ever truly know it to be.
Make no mistake, your sins are taken away from you by Jesus. He forgives you all your sins. This is why you have a pastor. Jesus Christ wants you, personally, to know and to receive the gifts that were won on the Cross. And so He has sent you a pastor to speak for Him. When you hear your pastor pronounce forgiveness, it is as if Jesus Christ is speaking to you. Pastors aren't God, they just speak for Him. What Jesus says goes, and He says that you are forgiven. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Though great our sins, yet greater still is God's abundant favor; His hand of mercy never will abandon us, nor waver. Our shepherd good and true is He, Who will at last His Israel free from all their sin and sorrow. ("From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee" LSB 607, st.5)
- Rev. Kyle Mietzner is the pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Anchorage, AK
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