Kruiz edited
Stewarding Forgiveness
Wednesday in Lent 4
29 March 2017
Christ created the church on the night of His betrayal. On Maundy Thursday, His community is given life around the table on which He sets His body and blood. The body of Christ, the church, is created where the body of Christ is given. The church is identified by the forgiveness of sins, which the Lord Christ has commanded her to distribute to poor sinners like us. The church is marked with the signs that convey God's merciful care to us Christians. His solemn command to the disciples at that table was that they should continue to give this body-building gift by doing what He had done. The command is so simple, "This do."
 
When Christ commanded to His disciples to "do this" He did not intend them to become lords and masters of this supper and table, but that they should do only what He Himself had commanded them. He directed them to serve the church created at the table as His friends and overseers of God's gracious gifts. Over and over again, these precious gifts are given in the church created by His blood; the Lord Himself offering forgiveness in the body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of sins. The overseers are merely serving what the Lord has given. Here the overabundance of God's grace is seen, for He gives us the Lord's Supper every Lord's Day. He invites us to the house where His voice comes from heaven, "I forgive you all your sins." He daily sees to the need of forgiveness abundantly pouring out these sacraments upon us. This is what the church is about; ever re-created around the table where there is forgiveness of sins. The rest is peripheral.
 
What was begun and is maintained in the Lord's Supper is also dispensed in holy absolution. The believer seeks this dispensation, not because he must, but because he is so hungry for mercy that he demands of the overseer to speak from his mouth the verdict of Him who died, "I forgive you." The Church has her whole existence in the forgiveness of sins.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"I believe that there is one holy Christian Church on earth, that is the community or number or assembly of all Christians in the whole world, the one bride of Christ, and His spiritual body of which He is the only Head. The bishops or priests are not her heads or lords or bridegrooms, but servants, friends, and, as the word 'bishop' implies: superintendents, guardians, or stewards.
 
"In this Christian Church, wherever it exists, is to be found the forgiveness of sins, that is a kingdom of grace and of true pardon. For in it are found the gospel, baptism, and the sacrament of the altar, in which the forgiveness of sins is offered, obtained, and received. Moreover, Christ and his Spirit and God are there. Outside this Christian Church there is no salvation or forgiveness of sins, but everlasting death and damnation; even though there may be a magnificent appearance of holiness and many good works, it is all worthless. But this forgiveness of sins is not to be expected only at one time, as in baptism, as the Novatians teach, but frequently, as often as one needs it, until death.
 
"For this reason I have a high regard for private confession, for here God's word and absolution are spoken privately and individually to each believer for the forgiveness of his sins. As often as he desires it he may have recourse to it for this forgiveness, and also for comfort, counsel, and guidance. Thus, it is a precious, useful thing for souls, as long as no one is driven to it with laws and commands but sinners are left free to make use of it, each according to his own need, when and where he wishes; just as we are free to obtain counsel and comfort, guidance and instruction when and where our need or our inclination moves us. And as long as one is not forced to enumerate all sins but only those which oppress him most grievously, or those which a person will mention in any case."

Martin Luther, Confession Concerning Christ's Supper
Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.  For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I 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. Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.  You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.  Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.  Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.  Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (ESV)
Prayer
O Lord, forgive my sins through the speaking of Your earthly representatives. Help me to believe, though sinful men form the sounds, that the words are Your own which give me what they say, that is, the forgiveness of sins. Amen.
 
For the stewards of the mysteries of God, that they would make God's kingdom come among us by giving God's gifts in abundance
 
For all those who will arrange their day to hear God's Word preached in Lenten services, that they might be strengthened in faith and confidence of God's grace in Christ
 
For all sanitation workers, that God would bless them in their calling and service to the community
 
For all who travel in their profession, that they might be kept safe in their travels and have joyful homecomings
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias   Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2017