The Divine Service – Confession and Absolution

Home > Newspaper Articles > The Divine Service – Confession and Absolution

Following the Invocation, where we call upon the name of the Triune God and remember our Baptism where our sins were washed away (Acts 22:16), the Divine Service continues with the Confession and Absolution. Here, at the very start of the Service, we accept Jesus’ invitation when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). We lay our burdens of sin and guilt upon Him and hear from the pastor the comforting rest Jesus gives to us.

One form of our Confession starts, “O almighty God, merciful Father, I, a poor miserable sinner, confess to You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment.” Here we humbly confess along with St. Paul, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature” (Romans 7:18). This sinful nature is completely corrupt and so we find that what Jesus said is true: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). Notice, that God is not only concerned about the sins others can see or hear, but even the ones we think. After a whole week or even one hour of pride and selfishness, we have much to confess and of which to be ashamed. And so we continue “But I am heartily sorry for them, and sincerely repent of them…”

We would have no right to come before God and ask Him for anything – except for this: “…and I pray You of Your boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor, sinful being.” It is only on account of Jesus’ life and sacrificial death that we can come before God and seek forgiveness. This also is part of our confession, though not of our sins but of God’s salvation. It is a confession of trust in what He has told us about Himself, that He “is merciful and gracious.” (Psalm 103:8).

Having confessed our sins as well as our faith (or trust) in Jesus’ as our Savior, God declares His forgiveness and peace to us through the pastor, “Upon this your confession, I, by virtue of my office as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God to all of you, and in the stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.We receive this absolution (this declaration that our sins are absolved/forgiven) from the pastor as if from God Himself, just as Jesus told His apostles, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them” (John 20:23).

Having Christ’s forgiveness, we now stand before God holy and blameless, at rest, and ready to hear more about this forgiveness and to pray, praise, and give thanks.

Rev. Gullixson is the pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church at 162 Sneden Street. The Divine Service begins at 9:30 AM every Sunday. To speak with Pastor Gullixson, please call (760) 873-6589.