Sunday, September 29, 2019

Call me slow. . .

We attend a liturgical service at our Lutheran Church—and we’re in the North American Lutheran Synod, which is conservative and pulled out of the ELCA maybe nine years ago. We’ve been in the same congregation but 3 synods in 45 years.   But it’s the same wording for Confession and Forgiveness and we say it every Sunday. I don’t think the informal/contemporary service use this Confession.

“. . . We confess that without Christ (that’s just been added recently) we are in bondage to sin and we cannot free ourselves.  We have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.  We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.  For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.  Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk inn Your ways, to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.”

I looked through the 1930 hymnal and with the exception of the archaic thees and thous it’s similar.  However, I notice there is no contrition (repentance, turning away from sin) expected on the part of the believer, no promise or even a suggestion that she’ll change.  How could that be? I know the words of the hymn, Jesus did it all, but I have no responsibility to even try to not sin?

If I borrow your truck and it has half a tank of gasoline, and I return it to you empty, I say, “Oh I’m so sorry, couldn’t find a gas station,” or “I ran out of time” or “I didn’t have enough money”—something like that.  Then next week I borrow it again, and again return it empty, telling you, “Gosh I’m so sorry,” but make up an excuse even more lame.  Then the 3rd week I do it again, but just say, “Forgive me for the empty tank,” and leave it at that.

Even in the Lord’s Prayer, the one Jesus taught, the believer asks the Lord to forgive our trespasses, and then says “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Ka-boom. A sign of change.  We have to forgive if we expect forgiveness.

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