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The Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity MMXII

Absolve, we beseech thee O Lord, the sins of thy people: so that from the bonds of our sins committed in our frailty, we may be delivered by thy bountiful goodness, through ...

Original English Translation
LORD we beseche thee, assoyle [absolve] thy people from their offences, that through thy bountiful goodnes we maye bee delyvered from the handes of all those synnes, whiche by our frayltye we have committed : Graunt this, &c. 

Introit: I know the thoughts that I think toward you saith the Lord...
Psalm: Lord, thou hast been favorable unto thy land...
Epistle:  Philippians 3:17-21  Brethren, be followers together of me...
Gradual: Thou has saved us from our enemies...
Gospel:  Matthew 22:15-22  Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel...

see it all here

This collect is said in course of the closing weeks of the Trinity season and repeated again on the Sunday before Advent in the Lutheran tradition. Here we will see it but once.

The collect begins with the petition:

Absolve...the sins of thy people 

The word absolve literally means "to pronounce somebody blameless: to state publicly or officially that somebody is not guilty and not to be held responsible".  From scripture we have these verses that confirm absolution of sin.

Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 

Micah 7:19 He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and You wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. 

Heberws 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more

Hebrews 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

In my tradition the minister still uses this term when pronouncing forgiveness: Almighty God,...hath given power, and commandment, to his Ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the Absolution and Remission of their sins. He pardoneth and absolveth all those who truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel.

In the midst of the petition is embedded the attribute and address "Almighty God"

Then comes the result:

"so that from the bonds of our sins committed in our frailty, we may be delivered by thy bountiful goodness"

We are indeed in bondage to sin. We are a sick people in our frailty.  There is only one cure, and that comes from the Great Physician who said he came to heal those who were sick...that is, those who are in bondage to sin. It is important to note that this is an ongoing need. That is because we are human and prone to sin, seven times seventy -- and more. But in our Lord's perfect grace, we may be assured that "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." [1 John 1:9]

You say your don't sin? You say you are not sick? Then the Gospel of Jesus Christ has nothing to offer you in the way of Salvation.  He comes to those of a humble and contrite spirit who acknowledge their sins before Almighty God. He said, 

They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. [Luke 5:31-32]

Homily-Chrysosom on Matthew


(Portions were paraphrased and passages cited from The Collect of the Day, 

by Paul Zeller Strodach, 1939, The United Lutheran Press, Philadelphia)

The Ancient Collect: Its history and form


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