We tend to make a lot of promises don’t we? When we make a commitment in a relationship, dating or through marriage – we promise the other person that we will be faithful to them, that we will support them, love them.
A promise can be a contract — like employment. There are certain written and sometimes unwritten expectations about when you will show up, how much you will be paid and other things that go along with being employed.
But we live in a broken world. There are many, many people who fulfill their promises, however, there are just as many, maybe more who don’t keep their word, get their car repossessed, foreclose on their house, cheat in their relationships, quit their job or even get fired.
I am sure if I took a survey we all could say that we have either broken a promise or have had a promise broken to us.
So that’s the world that we live in, that’s the reality of life.
Then we go to church and we hear about more promises!!! Promises of hope, forgiveness, love, grace, fellowship, and community. We hear about God’s promises to us!! I have seen these promises fulfilled at Faith Lutheran Church. There are many times that I walk out of a meeting with hope for the future.
There is also forgiveness at found in church. Each and every week we have committed ourselves to seek the physical forgiveness of Jesus. With the confession and absolution and the bread and wine in communion.
In seminary a professor told us once about a family in his church who brought some friends with them one Sunday. He could tell that they were church type people but not Lutherans. In the service they said the confession:
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Amen
We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen
Then he said he stood and addressed the congregation.
Almighty God, in his mercy, has given his Son to die for us and, for his sake, forgives us all our sins. As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
The visitors looked around in disbelief. It was pretty clear that they were expecting more. “That’s it?” they said. There is nothing more that we have to do? There is no feeling of guilt??? We don’t have to give more money to have God forgive us? We don’t have to repeat prayer after prayer to get God to notice us??? Nothing else? Then they broke down crying.
You see there are so many things that we keep inside of us. So many sinful things — like we say either we intend to do them or not. We are sinful people. But the good news is that we are forgiven. Each and every week, we come here and we have an opportunity as a community of faith to confess our sins, receive forgiveness through words of absolution, and then receive the physical forgiveness in the bread and wine at communion.
All of these promises come from the one that we prepare for this Advent Season. Jesus Christ our Lord.
Listen to the whole sermon below: