Needed: Confession, Absolution
In his December “Pressure Points” response to the anxious and scared brother or sister in Christ whose church job is in jeopardy, Dr. Bruce Hartung rightly begins with the comfort of Christian identity — Baptism. He writes, “You are in no way alone. But it does not seem so to you. So let’s start with where you can go.”
Does not Baptism include what Dr. Luther, in his Large Catechism, calls the third sacrament — Confession and Absolution?
What a wonderful gift the Lord has given for the hurting and terrified soul who feels alone! Should this not be the start for one who is so overwhelmed, who fears that there is no place [to] go? One’s pastor or father confessor … is a “safe space” for the Christian to go for help.
I understand that, in the case of a church worker, one’s pastor might also be one’s supervisor, which creates the potential for a conflict of interest and obligation. But there is always an alternative father confessor, one who also stands in the stead of Christ, to whom one can be directed — a place in the church where one can go to unburden a hurting conscience in strict confidentiality and receive the forgiveness of sins. Certainly the confessor also can recommend para-church and other organizations for additional help and support. But as we confess, where there is forgiveness of sins there also are life and salvation.
“So we teach what a splendid, precious and comforting thing Confession is … If I have brought you to the point of being a Christian, I have thereby also brought you to Confession. For those who really desire to be true Christians, to be rid of their sins, and to have a cheerful conscience already possess the true hunger and thirst. They reach for the bread, just as Psalm 42:1 says of a hunted deer, burning in the heat with thirst, ‘As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God.’ In other words, as a deer with anxious and trembling eagerness strains toward a fresh, flowing stream, so I yearn anxiously and tremblingly for God’s Word, Absolution, the Sacrament, and so forth” [LC Part V. An Exhortation to Confession, Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, (St. Louis: CPH 2005), p. 467].
Dr. Donald G. Kirchner
Lake George, Minn.
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Posted Jan. 26, 2012