Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9
Not about sin, about forgiveness
If you scan the worship aid and hymns this week, you might note, as I did, that they include more language than usual about sin. Yipee! Aren’t you glad you came to worship this week? This is Lent, the preparation period before Easter, an opportunity for look inward.
But the focus this week isn’t about sin, it is about forgiveness.
We sometimes carry guilt around inside ourselves. Maggie talked last week about negative self talk, beating ourselves up when we talk to ourselves. But even if you aren’t a running-commentary kind of person and don’t talk to yourself, you might inwardly feel guilt. Sometimes we carry a burden of thinking we are responsible, or have done wrong and need forgiveness. We feel a darkness and separation, we create our own personal hell. Confession in the Church is intended to release us from these burdens and free us to feel forgiven and be our best selves.
Genesis 45:1-15 † Psalm 33 † Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 † Matthew 15:10-28
Mother Teresa used to say, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
I don’t know what you think of this. It strikes me at first, like a claim from a more innocent time. It seems inadequate in the face of the recently amplified voices of white supremacy, of oppression and intolerance and hatred—perhaps most unnervingly, from the occupant of the White House whose role is supposedly to speak with a moral voice, to represent all the people, not an intolerant few.
It seems inadequate in the echo of extremist voices reviving the language of racial purity and ethnic intolerance. It seems inadequate given these beliefs led to the systematic murder of 7 million Jews and people of color by the Nazi Party of Germany—of people with physical and mental disabilities, and of lesbians and gays and transgendered people who were only trying to be their true selves.
It seems inadequate given the long history of slavery, of overt and covert oppression and malicious intimidation of people of African ancestry these past 400 years. It seems inadequate given the ebb and flow of government policies over the life of our troubled nation that have further privileged the interests of the already protected insiders.
Perhaps a quick reminder of legislative history in the United States might help us to keep things in context here:[i]
Readings for this Sunday:
1 Samuel 17:32-49 | Psalm 133 | 2 Corinthians 6:1-13| Mark 4:35-41
“How very good and pleasant to live in unity” feels like something of a lament this week… a yearning… an if only.
…feels like a statement of what’s meant to be, and far removed…
…but also strangely it feels like some kind balm for the heart: a heart that aches at those lives lost in Charleston and the horrors of witnessing one of God’s beloved so brutally taking the lives of others.
“How very good and pleasant to live in unity”… a sadness at the brokenness that we can’t seem to escape…
…but also these words, they ring, maybe faintly, with the echoes of something we might hold onto.
“How very good and pleasant to live in unity” …a reminder…..a hope - yes a hope…..an enticement…a coaxing …and a question – a gentle question: How will you respond? - we are connected to those who are in pain – we ache with them and this ache is of this unity of which we sing – unity in God – holy belonging to each other – feeling pain for each other – knowing that this violence is far from the peace we are made for and so as people connected to all other’s that God’s loves there come this question…..How will you be? What will you do?
Readings for the Sunday:
Isaiah 6:1-8 | Psalm 22: 29 | Romans 8:12-17 | John 3:1-17
There are two kinds of people in the world, I think—those who understand they are beautiful, and those who are beautiful but have not yet figured it out. I’m talking about real beauty here—not the beauty so often defined by our western culture that is apparently accessible only between the ages of 25 and 30, not the surface kind of beauty that is driven by insecurity and the kind of advertising that pedals scarcity and uncertainty. I’m talking real beauty. Deep beauty that knows it’s beautiful.
I’m talking about the beauty that I think Jesus is talking about when he tells Nicodemus you must be born again, born from above. I’m talking about the kind of sublime beauty that Isaiah captures in his vision of a Holy God that scares and even shames him, and yet he can’t not follow. He can’t but find strength and courage within himself. I’m talking about a beauty I hope I am beginning to understand, although I may be mistaken. For certain, I have a long way to go.
I think I started taking pictures a few years ago as a way of trying to get to this kind of beauty—a training regimen of sorts. There’s something about an image, and, I suspect even more, about training the eye to capture an image that speaks to the kind of beauty I’m trying to talk about and I think Trinity Sunday is trying to name in a way.
There’s a photographer called Jimmy Nelson who understands something of this, I think. You may not know the name, but you have probably seen some of his
Isaiah 9:1-4 • 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 • Matthew 4:12-23
Ok. I will admit to watching just a little Sportscenter this week in preparation for the Superbowl next Sunday. Ok, I’m sorry. That’s a total lie. I have spent many hours soaking in the attention that the Seahawks and this region have received on the many programs—sports programming and otherwise—that have all of a sudden seemed to discover there is a professional football team not to mention an urban area north of California and west of Chicago. So I have this strange sense that I should be talking about Richard Sherman this morning because clearly there hasn’t been enough said already about him this past week.
And if you didn’t get that joke, then I’m afraid you may not be as “all in” as the rest of the region is when it comes to these Seahawks and their march to the Superbowl and the fanatic response of the region to their success.
St. Andrew Sermons