Popular singer/songwriter Craig Richardson (stage name Craig Minowa) penned the lyrics of an intriguing song which he released in 2010. Titled “The Acceptance—Responsible,” the first verse goes:
If for just a moment, you had to be responsible For all the things you've said and done. Would you sit back and relax or fasten all your safety belts? Everybody's judgement comes.
These provocative words invite the listener to consider his/her past life and the judgment deserved for such deeds. Such an examination is precisely what Christians do during the season of Lent which begins Ash Wednesday (February 26). God’s righteous judgment on sin is an undeniable theme of the Holy Scriptures. “The dead were judged by what was written in the books according to what they had done” (Revelation 20:12). When we are honest, this is frightening. Richardson continues: Maybe in this moment you're feeling irresponsible for all the things you've said and done. “I am a wrecking ball, I've run the guillotine,
and I blame everything just to keep my hands clean.”
Maybe in this moment you need to be responsible for all the things you've said and done.
The Divine Service provides the perfect opportunity to accept responsibility for our sin and guilt over any evil things we’ve said, done, thought, and denied. We face the facts that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). If that’s where our service ended, it would be altogether somber, dark, and hopeless.
As it is, the Service of Word and Sacrament creates hope. The Word of God renews our attention to the life of Jesus Christ. As a free and undeserved gift, Jesus of Nazareth—the Son of God accepted full responsibility for us. He claimed our lowly bodies. He carried our iniquity and infirmity. He accepted the punishment we deserved. “For our sake [God the Father] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21) Because of His cross and passion, you are can most certainly relax (Richardson’s lyric for God’s peace). Indeed by your baptism in His blood, you are truly clean, pure, and holy. You and I are judged by God not according to our works but according to faith in His Son.
Because Jesus bore a body like yours and conquered the grave, he has promised resurrection to your body, life, and soul. According to this Gospel, our only responsibility is gratitude toward our LORD and charity for our neighbors so that they with us may know the “surpassing grace of God” (2 Cor 9:14).
Thanks be to God for this joyous responsibility.