Let's just say that Pastors can read minds. Ok, so maybe they can't. But it seems like it. Or maybe it's just that God can read minds and so he gives pastors to speak the Law and the Gospel. And the Law and the Gospel are always eggzaktly what I need to hear. Always and only that. So when my Pastors speak the Law and the Gospel to me, they are giving me the exact medication which I need. They are addressing precisely the sins that trouble my mind and weigh me down.
So then, let's just say that my Pastors are faithful to what God has given them to do in their vocation as "pastor" and in doing such, whether they know it or not, they always speak what I need to hear the most. They answer my unspoken question of "am really forgiven, I've done some pretty bad stuff and not done some pretty good stuff?" with a resounding, "you are forgiven! Because of Christ, you are not guilty!"
Alright, so I'll admit it: I was scared stiff Monday night. Frightened by my sin and scared of my pastor. (uh, yeah. I wasn't sure that we hadn't hurt his feelings.) Running through my head was a continual chant, "please forgive me, please forgive me, please forgive me," so loud I could hardly think. I forced myself to attend to the liturgy and the readings, but as soon as my concentration slipped, the panicked litany began afresh. Then Pastor Stuckwisch started to preach with the words, "Don't be afraid."
I should have kept count of how many times, he said those words. It had to have been at least 10 times. How did he know to say that? How did he know?
"Don't be afraid."
"Don't be afraid."
"Christ died for you."
He did, didn't he?
"You are forgiven."
How do I know?
"He gives you his body and blood to eat and drink."
That's right! Now I'm starting to remember.
"Shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins."
Can I be sure?
...Jesus said so...
Then I guess I can be certain. Hey, I'm forgiven! NOT GUILTY!
And it turned out Pastor wasn't hurt by the parking ticket joke either. Whew!
And tonight. I wasn't feeling the best I've ever felt in my whole life. Not physiologically, though I suppose there's some sort of ailment brewing there also. Spiritually I've seldom felt so impoverished, so panicked, since we started attending Emmaus. It's a mode where I don't think straight - I can't even recall how I'm forgiven. I just start feverishly trying to work out some kind of negotiation in my poor little mind. My thoughts go round in circles begging, entreating, pleading, as if I have forgotten that I'm talking to a Father who delights to forgive me, as if I have forgotten that my pardon is not a result of how well and fully I grovel for my sin but rather objectively pronounced "finished" by Christ at his death in my place.
And the same thing happened again. Pastor Grobien preached just what I needed to hear. Yes, I've failed - that's for sure! But Christ died for all that! Praise God!
I just don't know how I'm going to be able to handle not having church and the Sacrament every night once Easter is over. I think I'll drown.
But yes! That is what I should do! I should "drown"! Drown in my baptism every day in contrition and repentance. Read God's Word and trust his forgiveness. Rejoice in His salvation. Drowning sounds pretty good now.
As does sleep, to which blessed state I should already have proceeded. Alas! I have been remiss in making use of opportunities for this wonderful rest.
But anyway, the guilt of my last post has been well resolved - washed by bread and wine, body and blood. With this confidence, I can sleep in peace.