Thursday, May 29, 2014
"For we also retain confession, especially on account of the absolution, as being the word of God which, by divine authority, the power of the keys pronounces upon individuals." (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, art. XIIb, 2) One of the blessings that a pastor and a parishioner share is that of private confession and absolution. For the pastor, the opportunity is time for declaring to a specific person the same Gospel spoken in public worship. And, like in public worship, the pastor doesn't need to dig and interrogate concerning every little detail of people's lives to declare this beautiful forgiveness. For the parishioner, the time for confession allows for verbalizing some burden which continues to nag his or her conscience after taking it to the Lord Jesus during times spent reading the Holy Scriptures and in prayer. When verbalizing real burdens and sins, he or she knows that his/her pastor gives forgiveness and consolation as if Jesus Christ were there speaking it in person. Hence, in both public and private settings, that pastor stands in the stead and by the command of Jesus, not as a magistrate but as a shepherd guiding congregational members toward the peace that passes all understanding and a good conscience. (James 5:16, Phil. 4:7) We, therefore, rejoice in confession and absolution. (Ps. 32:5) It is not required or a merit toward our salvation. Rather, it's the opportunity for the Word to do His gracious working in our daily lives as we assume our positions in the vocations where God calls us.