Tag Archive: sin


We have begun a sermon series on Forgiveness as we have entered into this season of Lent. Forgiveness is a central aspect of the Christian faith. This past Wednesday because of the looming threat of snow that was coming during the night I didn’t get to preach the sermon I had planned. Instead, the few of us that showed up, gathered in a circle, sang songs of worship, read from scripture and had a discussion on our experience with forgiveness that ended in a beautiful time at the communion table.   I wanted to share this sermon with everyone before we gather again in worship this coming Wednesday because our hope is that these sermons build upon each other. I had preached this sermon last Sunday (February 22nd) wearing a heavy backpack (Adam Hamilton’s idea). I hope you will listen.

Our prayer is that forgiveness would be our way of life.

***A couple of resources that have been key for me as I have explored forgiveness are:

Adam Hamilton’s book: Forgiveness: Finding Peace Through Letting Go

and

Forgiving as We’ve Been Forgiven by L. Gregory Jones and Celestin Musekura

Be a Center

Booker_T_Washington_retouched_flattened-crop

I came across this quote from Booker T. Washington from a book called belonging  by bell hooks.

“Go out and be a center, a life-giving center, as it were, to a whole community, when the opportunity comes, when you may give life where there is no life, hope where there is no hope, power where there is no power. Begin in a humble way, and work to build up institutions that will put black people on their feet.”

What does this say to us as far as being the church, as a collection of disciples in our community? Maybe we are called to be a life giving center that puts human beings on their feet.  I wonder, who are those around us who need to be put back on their feet, those who need life? Who are those that have no hope or power?

Jesus Christ, God with us. Open our eyes to see both what is truly inside of us and what is truly around us. By your Spirit empower us to be a life-giving center that participates in Our Father’s kingdom. Amen

Sounds of Heaven

Sound of HeavenLast week one of my professors asked someone with a laptop to find some music and play it out loud for the class to hear. The tiny little speakers were doing their best and everyone affirmed that they could hear the music. He walked around to every corner of the room confirming that this music was filling the room.  He referred to this as the music of heaven; the presence of Jesus filling the room. Then he turned on his mp3 player which was hooked to the sound system which blared out Flight of the Valkyries.  He alluded to this as the sounds of Adam – sin and death- and it filled the room.  Both sounds filled the room at the same time.  It was hard, but you could still make out the sound of heaven in the midst of the other sounds. I suddenly felt like I had a moment where the present world made sense. Why in me there is darkness and sin, while I profess that Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit has redeemed me through the birth, life, death, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of God. Why if God has come to take away the sins of the world we still have to watch the news to hear of tragedy and evil still at work. Both the reality of Christ Jesus, which is here right now in its fullness is operating along side the reality of Adam.

When we gather for worship we gather together to practice participating in the sounds of heaven.  We can’t turn off completely the other sounds, but hopefully we can dial them down a little as we focus on the sounds of heaven in worship. We can practice listening to that still soft voice. When we get together in discipleship groups we practice living in the reality that the music of heaven.  The music of God is always there and always playing despite the noise of sin that surrounds us. We begin to find that even in the darkest and noisiest places God’s music is playing because there is no place God’s grace and the music of heaven hasn’t filled the entire cosmos.   Suddenly missions and evangelism changes, because we realize that God is already there – The music is playing everywhere all the time. So all we can do is help someone hear the music by us doing our best to sing along with the sounds of heaven.  Besides we may find in the least expected place to hear the sound of heaven.

Thank You Letter

Journaling

During the children’s sermon time yesterday Pastor Mark had invited the young one’s to write a “Thank You Note” to God and bring it back next week so we can place them on the altar during worship.  I don’t know if he had planned this, but he later turns to everyone in the church suggesting that we all bring a thank you note to be placed on the altar this coming Sunday. I love to journal my prayers and thoughts so I was excited about this.

For whatever reason though, this got me thinking. First I went through thanking God for Jill, Caleb, Ethan, and all our family.  Then before I got much further I began to reflect in a different direction. These past three months I have had some significant experiences of confession, recognition of sin both present and past, and experiences of grace and forgiveness. Now I am not saying all this out loud for some kind of pity party, but I have been having one of those seasons where I feel like I have stepped a little closer to the light. The light of Jesus Christ has revealed some of the darkness and sin that is in me. There are some pages of my journal that may not look exactly like a thank you letter, or even look like it has much light. But the only reason those corners of my journal (and in me) looks dark because the light of Christ is shining bright and coming around the corner and is in the process of revealing and healing those dark places.

Sometimes flipping through the scriptures I have those moments when I see the heroes of our faith: Moses, David, Peter, Paul…. and I see just that: heroes, however sometimes I read about these people and wonder what God was thinking choosing them. Adulterers, murderers, zealous fighting for the cause one minute, unfaithfully denying the next…..  Then when flipping through my journal recently and seeing those dark places I wonder what was God thinking choosing me. Not choosing me to be a pastor or a leader, a husband a father…. but actually choosing me. So what would my thank you letter have today?

I am thankful for the Mercy shown us in Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the light of Christ shining in our dark places bringing healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  I am thankful that God is not done with (us)me yet.  I am thankful that God is with us. I am thankful that God is for us.

Thank you Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – One True God. Thank You.
Amen

What is going to be on your thank you note? Don’t forget to bring them to worship on Sunday (I am not sure it matters if you don’t attend St. Paul UMC you can put them on the altar where ever you are).