I've been a lifelong Lutheran. My faith predates the formation of the ELCA. I am frankly becoming very confused with the ELCA's practices. One such practice is the denial of absolution during Lent. During Lent, as stated, absolution is withheld until Maundy Thursday. Yet, Communion is served. If I am not mistaken, in accordance to the teachings of Luther and the Scriptures, no man has the authority to withhold God's forgiveness being it Pastor, Bishop, Pope, etc. Am I mistaken? Also, doesn't one have to ask forgiveness of their sins and be "sort of" right with God before taking Communion? I'm becoming disillusioned.
I have heard of people giving up many things for Lent but never the absolution. This is a practice with which I was not familiar—as were several of my colleagues in the ministry whom I consulted. I did find the practice online in a worship resource, but I’m with you in that this practice is puzzling. The stated purpose of that practice is “to underscore the entire season of Lent as a time of repentance” and to underscore “the brokenness of our relationship with God.”
I can understand why you felt empty when, after speaking the confession of sins, there was no spoken absolution. It would be comparable to King David saying in Psalm 32:5 – “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and then omitting the end of that verse: “and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Luther’s Catechism explains on the basis of God’s Word that “Confession has two parts. The one is that we confess our sins; the other, that we receive absolution or forgiveness from the pastor as from God himself, not doubting but firmly believing that our sins are thus forgiven before God in heaven.”
Acknowledging that Lent is a time of repentance and a season that underscores “the brokenness of our relationship with God” is accurate, but there is more to Lent’s message than that. The season of Lent holds up the gospel message in great detail, showing that God “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). Lent demonstrates how “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).
Yes, Scripture does speak of unworthily reception of the sacrament and the need for self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:27-28). At least speaking the confession in the worship service aided you in self-examination, and that confession was followed up with the message of forgiveness in the sacrament.
I hope you are addressing your concerns to your pastor. That is the person who really needs to hear them. God guide you in those conversations.