Lutheran Witness: January 2014

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From the editor

Last year, the Huffington Post ran a story with a distinct headline: “Give Yourself a Gift Today: Forgive Someone.” It was intriguing — the thought of the secular world actually finding a place for forgiveness in the rhythm of daily life.

But the title of the article was as good as it got. About a paragraph in, things really went downhill: “Once you forgive yourself, you can let go of the pain, guilt and the past, and continue to live in the present with a clean slate and a light heart.”

This all-sorts-of-strings-attached kind of thinking is deeply flawed. In fact, we can’t forgive ourselves because forgiveness is Christ’s. He won it on the cross, and it is His to dispense to us. So if the line the world has fed us is actually all wrong, what are we to believe about forgiveness?

In the Rev. Josh LaFeve’s “Valid and Certain,” we learn what happens when we tell someone we forgive them but we don’t really mean it, and the Rev. Guillaume Williams’ “Simply Believe,” explains that our Lord’s words from the cross, “Father, forgive them,” are meant for us too.

“Who Can Discern His Errors?” by the Rev. Mark Niermann clarifies what happens to those sins we are not even aware we commit, and “My Forgiveness Is God’s Forgiveness,” by the Rev. Michael Schuermann, assures us that when our pastor pronounces forgiveness on us, it is really Christ’s.

The Rev. Kurt Onken, author of this month’s cover story, “Do-It-Yourself Forgiveness,” helps us understand why Jesus dishes out His forgiveness through His pastors in the Divine Service. “Radical Repentance, by the Rev. Kevin Robson, clarifies why pastors must then sometimes do the hard work of admonish those living in unrepentant sin, and the Rev. Aaron Schian’s, “Forgiving Yourself: Don’t Bother” makes clear why Christ gives forgiveness to all of us when we don’t even deserve it.

Helping moms and dads learn how to talk about absolution in the home, Deaconess Rose Adle’s “Family Forgiveness” offers ideas on how young and old can both practice forgiving one another. Chaplain Charles Mallie’s “Dying for Sinners” answers the question, “Is there any sin that the shed blood of Calvary’s cross doesn’t cover?” and in “Feeling Faith,” Deaconess Ellie Corrow helps us understand what to do when we’ve been forgiven but don’t feel like it.

Finally, we can use this month’s Bible study, “Forgiveness: Received and Given,” by the Rev. Christopher Maronde, to start discussions at home, church or work about Christ’s forgiveness and why He absolutely loves to give it to you!

We can’t forgive ourselves for the sins we commit, but our Lord can, and He does. And He puts His men — pastors — in our midst to relay that word of forgiveness to our ears so that we may know — tactilely and in real time — that we are made new, free and forgiven by Jesus . . . no strings attached.

Adriane Heins, Managing Editor
The Lutheran Witness
adriane.heins@lcms.org

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