The Home of Forgiveness
Thursday of Christmas 1
3 January 2019
The burden of sin is deadly. Without the mitigation of forgiveness, the relentless requirements of the law are crushing. Like a shrew, the law keeps howling about our many failures, weaknesses, oversights, and faux pas. It is never quiet but always hectoring and demanding. It brings no relief; it only points out our sin. Outside of the divine mercy there is only law. Our society is piled on with rules, requirements, and expectations, which when conceived together are simply impossible to keep. Lawyers have speculated that every person in the United States is guilty of transgressing federal law and is liable to imprisonment, if some enterprising prosecutor decides to charge them. These are only the laws that are in the Federal Register and the United States Code; without considering city, state, or county laws and ordinances and the many societal taboos which are not codified by governmental entities.
Many despair under the power of political correctness or other societal pressures that do not admit of forgiveness, but only promise the relentless pounding of failure. Public shaming for these "sins" is often found in social media. Public shaming has cost people their reputation, livelihood, and driven more than one despairing person into suicide. Recently, the online version of Psychology Today included an article entitled "The Impact of Public Shaming in a Digital World." In the end, the article could only suggest that you not attack others online, which, although good advice, is still more legal direction. Perhaps the bad behavior we see in the social media is the rage caused by the legalistic pressure placed on them by society today. When we feel bitten we often bite back and hard.
Sin is inevitable. However, mercy is not. It is a miraculous gift of God. This is where the incarnation of the Son of God comes in. This is the point of Christmas which is the story of God's absolute self-giving in Christ, who was born of Mary for us sinners. He comes not bringing judgment, but mercy. There is no judging in Him. He says, "If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world" (Jn 12:47). God has sent His only Son to bring salvation, not just for us, but for the whole world. So powerful is the work He does. So thoroughly does he take up His mission from His Father that He can only think of forgiving our sins to save us. He never repeats them or shames us because of them. Instead, He takes them on Himself! So desperate is the stain, so powerful is the cleansing. So burdensome is the weight, that only God can bear it. Only God's Son can do this. Only the church proclaims this. How many hurting and harried people need to hear this message in our world today? Millions upon millions are shoved to and fro bullied by the wickedness of our culture. They need not bear that burden, because Christ has. They have a home with the church. The home of forgiveness.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"Many who do not hear the Word of grace are driven to despair and either throw themselves into rivers or hang themselves. For they are not able to bear the power of sin when it has been revealed and is alive. When it is 'crouching at the door' (Gn 4:7), as is stated to Cain, it is neglected and is forthwith increased by other, more atrocious sins. One falls into one sin after another. But when it is aroused and brought to life, then the blood of the Son of God must be applied to remove it.
"Medicine and help as powerful as this are required, namely, the Godhead become incarnate and the very blood of the Son of God."

 Martin Luther, 
Lectures on Genesis, 50.15
Jude 17-25

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions." It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (ESV)
O Lord, You have sent the medicine of immortality in Your Holy Supper. Grant that we might live in that life so that we might testify to Your holy incarnation. Amen.
For relief workers bringing aid to those who have suffered devastation from natural disasters, that the Lord would strengthen them in their labors
For President Harrison of the LCMS, that God would lead him to faithfully confess the faith once delivered to the saints
For Charlie Shorre, who will be undergoing surgery next week, that the Lord of all would guard the hand of the surgeon and grant healing and a full recovery
Art: MARATTI, Carlo  The Holy Night (1650s)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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