Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Wednesday prior to Epiphany 3

 Jonah 3:1-5, 10—Jonah obeys God’s command to preach to Nineveh; the people and God repent. Jonah refuses to obey God’s command to preach to Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrians. After Jonah repents and is vomited out of a large fish, Jonah obeys and preaches judgment to Nineveh. The coming disaster causes the government and people to repent. Thereupon God decides not to condemn the city. Jonah reflects the nationalistic concept of God. The Lord is not the God only of Israel but of any who would repent and trust the Lord. Judgment motivates repentance and God’s mercy is extended to any people who repent, regardless of nationality or race. God’s salvation depends on repentance and not on national origin.

In confession and absolution, Jesus Christ, who poured out his life-blood as the perfect and complete sacrifice for all sin, pours into our ears the life-giving promise of absolution, “My son, my daughter, go in peace, your sins are forgiven.” Trusting that promise, we say, “Amen. Yes, Lord, it is true.” Thanks be to God!

It is hard to say, “I was wrong. I am sorry. Forgive me.” God’s Word makes it clear that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). In confession and absolution, God’s Word is having its way with us, moving us to confess the truth about ourselves and our need for His forgiveness.

Because of Jesus Christ, confession and absolution is a blessed, joyful, happy exchange! “For our sake He made Him to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). When Jesus hung on the cross, He became sin—for us. He was the ransom for sin. God poured out His just wrath on Christ. Christ won peace between God and man. In confession, Christ takes the burden of our sin and gives us in exchange His complete forgiveness and love.

Rejoicing in the forgiveness of sins, we pray that God gives us the strength to resist temptation, and to live lives that glorify Him, seeking to please Him by what we do, in accordance with His holy and perfect will. And as we do, we always are aware of our sin and so we flee for refuge to His boundless mercy, seeking and imploring His forgiveness for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God for the gift of confession and absolution!

The absolution at the beginning of the Divine Service is a public declaration of God’s forgiveness, a precious announcement of the good news of reconciliation with God in Christ.

Today is Inauguration Day. The 59th Presidential Inauguration will be held on January 20th, 2021 in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Swearing-In ceremony will take place on the west front of the United States Capitol and will be followed by the Inaugural Address. Today we pray for our country, those who have sworn to defend our liberties and for responsible citizenship. 

Almighty God, you sent your Son to proclaim your kingdom and to teach with authority. Anoint us with the power of your Spirit, that we, too, may bring good news to the afflicted, bind upon the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to the captives.[1]

Lord keep this nation under Your care. Bless our nation with faithful leaders that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to the other nations of the earth. Grant that he may make wise decisions for the general welfare and serve You faithfully in this generation; through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen. [2]

[1] Prayers for the Epiphany Season, and Prayer for Responsible Citizenshi, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Image of Psalm 32:5 copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

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