Peace for our souls
In one of our Collects of the Day, the Christian church prays: “Almighty and everlasting God … pour down on us the abundance of your mercy; forgive us those things of which our conscience is afraid”. Another collect in the season of Advent pleads: “Stir up your power, O Lord, and come and help us by your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by your grace and mercy”. Can you relate to that? I can. You know, that little voice inside that keeps reminding us of things that we’d rather forget.
In the movie “The Patriot”, actor Mel Gibson plays the farmer Benjamin Martin, a man who had fought bravely during the French and Indian Wars. But since the death of his wife, Benjamin has renounced violence and quietly tends his crops, raising his seven children alone. His pacifism is challenged and eventually overwhelmed as he endures the senseless destruction of his family’s home and the death of his two oldest sons at the hands of a mean-spirited British colonel by the name of William Tavington. In reflecting on his numerous personal tragedies, Gibson’s character laments that he feared the cost for his past sins would be too great to bear.
That’s a guilty conscience at work. Sound familiar? Is there anything in the past that you’d rather forget, but can’t? Does it still bother you? I’ve known people who thought that God was just waiting to lower the boom because of something they did years ago. Restless hearts and restless minds.
Thankfully, there is an antidote for guilty consciences. You can read about it in the book of Hebrews: How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God (9:14). And since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (10:21–22).
And for souls that find it hard to let go of the past, the prophet Jeremiah assures us that God will forgive their iniquity, and will remember their sin no more (31:34). For all the times you stubbornly refuse to let go of things that God your Father has long forgotten, repent! Repent and believe the Good News of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ! And in believing, you will find peace for your soul.
Almighty God, through the resurrection of your Son you have secured peace for our troubled consciences. Grant us this peace forevermore, that trusting in the merit of your Son we may come at last to the perfect peace of heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Lutheran Service Book, Altar Book, p. 598)
Pastor Kevin Karner, MDiv
Immanuel Lutheran Church
Bristol, CT 06010 USA