Thursday, June 22, 2006

Check 'em out

Okay, I'm not normally one to give props to others' weblogs, but I consider two recent posts worth passing on to like the three of you who read my blog:

First, Be Strong in the Grace wrote recently about the beauty of our calling as priests to console others by sharing the news that they're forgiven in Christ (commonly referred to as absolution or the office of the keys).
Luther writes in the Large Catechism:

"Christ himself has entrusted absolution to his Christian church and commanded us to absolve one another from sins. So if there is a heart that feels its sin and desires consolation, it has here a sure refuge when it hears in God's Word that through a fellow human being, God absolves a person from sin." Read more . . .

I used to balk in church when we, as a congregation, would confess our sins, followed by absolution from the pastor. I thought, This is crap. How can any pastor say whether or not anyone is forgiven? But now I'm beginning to see not only the "scripturality" of it*, but also the need for it.

Second, Rob at Love & Blunder's post "Theology for the dying and dead" begins in a way that sort of haunts me:
Death has been on my mind for more than a year. I can trace its shadow back to a strange origin: The birth of my daughter.

I think about it every night, as we put her to bed. We help Olivia into her pajamas, watch her brush her teeth, read "Goodnight Moon" together, and say a prayer. The lights go out. The rocking chair creaks, Olivia sighs in her sleep, and my own mortality grips me. And holding her there in the darkness, I'm filled with a holy ache. The close of the evening is one tiny goodbye in a lifelong string of goodbyes.

I can't help but whisper Jesus' name. I hold my daughter tight, and I cling to the Gospel all the tighter. Read more . . .

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a child of my own. What would it be like to hold her (or him)? Could I sleep at night if she weren't right next to me? Would I be selfish and try to wrestle "my time" away from her, or would I live this new death-to-myself that is required in lovingly raising a child? If she dies, will I be able to say along with Martin Luther (at the death of his father in 1530), "Never have I hated death so much"?

I mean, so often have I (and other Christians) thought of death as but a gateway into the glory hereafter, thanks to our union with the resurrected Christ. (Props to the Orthodox Church for placing this reality at the fore of their theology.) But in reality, we Christians ought to vehemently hate death in every form and weep in every place it rears its ugly head. It was never part of God's good plan for the world! (This is coming from the conscience of yours truly, a five-point Calvinist who believes that God, in some unfathomable way, foresees and foreordains every calamity and death.) We ought to look at death and fall into despair--only then to look with an even stronger hope in the Lord.
* "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18); "If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld" (John 20:23); "You yourselves are . . . to be a holy priesthood . . . . You are . . . a royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5, 9). Also see Luther's Small Catechism, under "Confession", and the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's day 31.

1 comment:

halfmom said...

Drew, you are so funny. How do you know who reads your blog - only those of us who comment occasionally? Who do you read that you don't comment on?

I must confess, I have never been able to wrap my arms around the "absolution" thing. But, I suppose it keeps us from ever being bored to have something to think of.

Humm - Drew as a dad - wouldn't a wife be in order first? It takes sacrifice, that's for sure. However, if you are walking in Christ, that sacrifice will come - sometimes quite naturally, sometimes grudginly (getting up to clean vomitin the middle of the night is never easy) but it does come. My own Olivia is 22 so I have ceased to sit by her bed in the dark as she sleeps but I must admit to standing in the doorway early some morings when she is home and watching her sleep, bathed in sunshine from the skylight.