by Linda Veath

Photo: GraphicStock

In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

I listened to these words being repeated, again and again. At first it seemed awkward as I stood in line behind others in my congregation, waiting to kneel at the front of the church and receive individual absolution for my sins.

In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

But it also gave me time to think about what the pastor was saying over us—EACH of us, one by one, again and again.

In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Absolution—used more frequently in Catholic and Lutheran churches—is the formal remission of sin, usually imparted by a pastor or priest, as part of the confession and forgiveness of sins. Its root word absolute means complete, unconditional. Therefore, the forgiveness of our sin that is given through absolution is complete, unconditional.

As that sank in, my mind returned to the steady repetition of the pastor’s words.

In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Now, instead of awkward, it seemed as if those words, though spoken over people in line ahead of me, were being said for me as well. And over and over again.

As I approached and knelt at the rail, my pastor laid both of his hands on my head and said:

In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

I returned to my seat with tears slipping down my cheeks. I felt so forgiven, so unworthy, and so thankful.

In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Go in peace. Your sins are forgiven. In Jesus’ name. Amen.