In two different Lutheran churches I attended last Sunday and this Sunday, the pastor “misproclaimed” the absolution (the announcement of the the forgiveness of sins) by using his own creative wording. I’m beginning to wonder how widespread this practice might be, and whether it is intentional or accidental.
After the public confession, rather than personally announcing the forgiveness of sins to the congregation (in the first and second person, i.e. “I forgive you your sins” or even the second person passive "your sins are forgiven"), the pastor used third-person grammar in a more generic statement about God (i.e. God is merciful to man, blah, blah, blah).
I know God is merciful. But is he merciful to me?
Unless God forgives my sins, he is a God no different from the god of Islam - who also is said to be merciful, is he not?
I realize this may sound nitpicky. And I don’t consider myself liturgically legalistic, by any means. But I can appreciate why some churches insist on precise liturgical language - at least in the case of the absolution, because it is the one event in the public service where, if the pastor doesn't mess it up, you cannot avoid hearing the Gospel. Even if the entire rest of the service is filled with legalism (i.e. the praise songs, the sermon, the prayers, the announcements - yes, especially the announcements!) the forgiveness of my sins is (or ought to be) pure Gospel.
“I announce the grace of God to all of you 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.”