It was 3 a.m. when I got up to do my typical check of the kids. Sometimes Audrey needs a bottle, Abby needs help, or I just need to go to the restroom. Mindy woke up enough to ask me to turn on the ceiling fan, which I thought was funny since I thought I had turned it on last night. I went to the switch and realized it was supposed to be on, so then I checked the pull chain. At that point I realized the house was awfully dark, and it dawned on me that the power must be out. I knew then that this was going to be a long morning. First I worried about Audrey’s swing, which gets plugged in. When Jacob was a baby I changed a million batteries in his swing, so this one being electric was awesome, except now. Now I wished it had batteries. I tried to get few more minutes of sleep before I would have to get up. Jacob wakes up entirely to early, and with no TV or lights, there would be a million questions. And so there were. The kids tried to figure out when the power would come back on and what Mindy and I were going to do about it. They were instructed to keep the fridge closed and to not get any milk like they usually do. They watched the traffic back up by our house and people turn around in our driveway looking for another exit. They would scream for Mindy and I to come look at what was happening, and then the very next breath they would complain about not having milk to drink or not being able to watch TV. I promised them we would go to breakfast somewhere. And thus began our day without electricity.
Electricity helps our houses run, and without it, they just don’t function right. When the electricity goes out you begin to realize everything that needs electricity. It becomes a question of how long can you survive without it. My phone only had 3% charge as I left the house, so I grabbed the rechargeable charger to make sure people could get ahold of me if they needed to.
Week 3 of Lutheran Love is all about confession and communion. This is the electricity of our Lutheran church service. If we don’t have it, we are in a house that isn’t functioning the way it was built to function. In confession and absolution, we come back to the beginning of scripture – how God made people and they sinned. We come back to His restoration and forgiveness. We are reminded again, no matter what the world told us during the week, that we sin every day. We even have sins we don’t know about. Yet, we receive God’s amazing forgiveness and we move forward in what He has called His people to be. We begin our service knowing the electricity of forgiveness that brings us into that powerful relationship with Him. This continues throughout the service and onto communion. Communion is that jolt of God’s amazing grace that goes beyond our human understanding. Somehow in this meal, we are tasting God’s body and blood and receiving forgiveness, all at the same time, even though it looks like just bread and wine.
Other churches may dispute the importance of having confession in the service, or argue that the Lord’s Supper is just a representation, but these elements are the energy of the Lutheran Church. We say that our service is Word and sacrament. When we talk about the liturgy, and law and gospel, they all culminate in the confession, absolution and communion. This week we take time to talk about why this is the electricity, or energy, of the Lutheran Church. We will talk about how apart from it we can fall into thinking we are doing it on our own. We will talk about why this is something to celebrate in our worship and look forward to.
I have vivid memories of times I have confessed sins that I committed. One especially stands out. I had taken some quarters from my dad’s dresser. I waited a couple weeks before I told him. One night I came downstairs crying and shared how I had stolen from him. My dad’s words of forgiveness were the most powerful words I could have heard. There are so many times when we have stolen, or abused, the gifts our Father God has given us, and yet in that moment of absolution, He forgives us. But not just that, He invites us to come eat with Him at His table.