Lord of the Rings

  • Absolution

    Absolution is not a terribly common word in our common speech in twenty-first century North America. We don't often ask for or offer absolution. We don't often ask to be absolved. It is too formal for every day life. We tend to set absolution aside for the priest, the minister, the pastor.
     
    Absolution is simply the formal version of forgiveness, and we do speak plenty of forgiveness. Although, we do like to sidestep even forgiveness.
     
    InThe Lord of the Ringsfilms, there are several moments where absolution and forgiveness are hinted at and hoped for, even outright asked for, but the delivery always comes up short.
     
    When the Council of Elrond gathers at Rivendell and Gandalf begins speaking in the Black Speech of Mordor, Gandalf outright says, "I do not ask your pardon Master Elrond..." He believes there is no need for absolution.
     
    When Boromir is dying, he confesses and then outright asks Aragorn for forgiveness, saying, "I tried to take the ring from [Frodo]....Forgive me. I did not see. I have failed you all."
     
    Aragorn responds with, "No Boromir. You have fought bravely and kept your honor."
     
    Aragorn points Boromir to his brave actions as good enough to cancel his failures rather than forgiving the poor, dying man.
     
    In the second film, as Rohan is preparing to defend Helm's Deep, Legolas and Aragorn fight about the long odds and certain death that are marching in their direction. Legolas then seeks reconciliation saying, "Forgive me. I was wrong to despair." And again, Agagorn rebuffs him saying, "There is nothing to forgive." (Well, maybe something got lost in the translation of the Elvish there.)
     
    There are numerous other examples, but these reveal an all too common movement of ours to refuse to ask for or give forgiveness. For some reason, the intimacy of saying: "I forgive you" is sidestepped.
     
    This can even happen in the church. I've heard a few people bristle at the idea of the absolution when the pastor says the words, "I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (without commas). 
     
    People are confused by this much like the scribes in Mark 2, asking, " Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 
     
    But Jesus has given this absolution authority over to others. Jesus established an absolution office saying, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (John 20:23). 
     
    So do not doubt when the priest, minister, or pastor says to you, "As a called and ordained servant of Christ and by His authority, I forgive you." Do not disbelieve when you hear, "In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you." Jesus did that on purpose. He wants to forgive your sins through such people who not only proclaim and declare forgiveness to you, but actually forgive you, absolve you.
     
    Furthermore, this absolution business is not just for the sanctuary. In Matthew 18, Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus tells Peter and the other disciples (including Andrew, Peter's actual brother) a story about an absolutely ridiculous king who forgives a debt that was larger than the gross domestic product of any nation in the world. It is a forgiveness so thorough and complete it can only be quantified in made up words like zillions and bazillions and kajillions. 
     
    God's forgiveness comes to us by the kajillions and we have no reason to sidestep forgiving others. We can speak "I forgive you" clearly to them over and over and over again because we have been forgiven in Christ in a complete and thorough paradox as Christ dies once for all, yet His forgiveness, His absolution comes to us a zillion times.
  • Daily Devotions. Day 13, My Times Are in Your Hand

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    One week from today is Palm Sunday. Our shelter in place order will keep us from gathering next Sunday as we normally would. Sometimes it feels like everything is out of our hands, out of our control. We may begin to wish we had never seen such times.

    This is how the character Frodo Baggins feels in The Lord of the Rings series. Frodo and his companions are on a quest that is just beginning. Thus far it has not gone well. They are stuck in a massive, ancient mine that is overrun with enemies when Frodo expresses his dismay saying, “I wish none of this had happened.”

    The wizard, Gandalf, replies, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

    In the Psalm for Palm Sunday, Psalm 31, David writes to the Lord, “My times are in your hand.” I’m sure none of us would have chosen a time when we could not meet together in person for worship, but our times are in the hands of God. We don’t get to decide what happens on a worldwide scale. All we have to decide is what we are going to do with this time, in this era that God has given to us.

    Let’s trust in the Lord, and point others toward His mercies.

    God’s blessings on your day. Keep the faith.

    Pastor Andy

    One week from today is Palm Sunday. Our shelter in place order will keep us from gathering next Sunday as we normally would. Sometimes it feels like everything is out of our hands, out of our control. We may begin to wish we had never seen such times.

    This is how the character Frodo Baggins feels in The Lord of the Rings series. Frodo and his companions are on a quest that is just beginning. Thus far it has not gone well. They are stuck in a massive, ancient mine that is overrun with enemies when Frodo expresses his dismay saying, “I wish none of this had happened.”

    The wizard, Gandalf, replies, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

    In the Psalm for Palm Sunday, Psalm 31, David writes to the Lord, “My times are in your hand.” I’m sure none of us would have chosen a time when we could not meet together in person for worship, but our times are in the hands of God. We don’t get to decide what happens on a worldwide scale. All we have to decide is what we are going to do with this time, in this era that God has given to us.

    Let’s trust in the Lord, and point others toward His mercies.

    God’s blessings on your day. Keep the faith.

    Pastor Andy

  • The Arguments of Despair

    While Satan draws us away from God with the arguments of despair, Jesus comes to us with the arguments of hope.
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