Sunday, April 14, 2019


Lent III
Mar 24, 2019

Sin is sin is sin!

I had a unique experience yesterday...

I attended to rally at the State Capitol to defeat the currently proposed so-called "sex-ed" bill.  I was watching the speakers from the back of the crowd,  probably 300 folks.  I and my friend were approached by Fox 31 News to be interviewed and we went aside to do that.   As we were being interviewed a young man came and stood just within ear shot and began heckling and calling us names,  so I left the camera shot and engaged him.  As I did so the camera swung around and...

So, I was on the channel 31 news last night engaged in a debate with a former Episcopalian altar boy,  who now rejects God and the scriptures in favor of this radical political action agenda we are seeing at the state house.  

As I read the scriptures to prep for the sermon I was struck by the comments of the Apostle Paul in this paragraph in his letter to Corinth this morning:

6Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

Paul then lists out the sins of the nation as they were in the wilderness...

Idolatry, sexual immorality,  presumption (putting the Lord to the test) and grumbling against God! 

You know,  the more things change,  the more they stay the same!   The further we go down the road of civilization,  the less progress we actually make.   I think we could likely use the same "big 4" list for our modern American culture! 

The interesting thing to me here was the words of Jesus in the Gospel:

2And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?
3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Jesus is very clear and concise here.  He always brings the point back to the hearer ... to you and me.  To my individual sin and culpability before God! 

One of the earliest scriptures I was required to memorize as a college student with the Navigators was 1 Cor 10:13...

13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
KJV, of course!

The point here is that we're all responsible for our own sin - all individually sinners in the big picture, all sinners that don't get to point fingers at others and say they are "worse" sinners than I am,  and to thereby justify myself in some way. 

Jesus never let anyone off the hook in that way,  ever. We don't get to compare ourselves to others,  in any way,  for good or ill.  We stand before God like Moses in front of the holiness of God at the burning bush...  each and every one of us will stand there. 

And our sin will be covered or it will be uncovered! It's that simple.  Jesus came back twice to his injunction to his hearers:

unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

God is no respecter of persons... your sin isn't greater or lesser than mine.  We're both sinners.  And we can both find grace and forgiveness at the cross!  Jesus didn't spend a lot of time mentioning particular sins because he knew we all wanted him to!  We're all anxious to get the light and heat of God's fire off of us and onto the Real sinners!  

Jesus here calls us to the work of repentance,  to name our name,  no one else's!  To stand in the place of Moses in front of God...  take off your dirty sandals,  even the ground here is holy! 

Friends, we are in Lent. The days we're living in are evil,  because of us!  We're studying Nehemiah and his first response was to repent!  That's a good example! Nehemiah spent months in prayerful repentance before he made a move!  It's time for us to spend some time in prayerful repentance of our own and to remember the memory verse...

13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Jesus is the way.  Where you have temptation fix your eyes on Jesus,  the author and the finisher of your faith!  He is the way, He is the truth and He is the life! 

Whether our sin... my sin ... is covered or exposed in God's presence depends on a choice.  Your choice,  my choice.  And the choice is simply to believe what Jesus Christ did and said on my behalf. 

To believe it and to receive it as my own.

And we must do that today!  Today is the day.  Every "today" is the day!  His hands are open wide on the hard wood of the cross.   Won't you and I come into the sweep of his saving embrace?  

This is our task individually and together in our day,  and then to be his hands and feet and eyes and ears and mouth in the world around us.  They're starving for this,  ... hungry and thirsty for they know not what ... or even why! 

As I got to my car I was approached by another individual.  A homeless man panhandling for change,  and he came with the most apologetic manner I'd ever encountered.  I have him all my parking change and touched his shoulder and said,  "I have three words for you... Shame Off You!"  He broke down and cried as I told him he was God's child and that God loved him and wanted him whole and healed.  He hugged me and thanked me and went his way. 

Eventful day downtown yesterday.  Quite an extraordinary day.  Let's pray. 

Our Father and our God

We come with repentance and humility before you today, asking for forgiveness and for reconciliation.  Help us to remove our dirty sandals in your presence. Give us clean hands and pure hearts to do your work as you send us into the world as your ambassadors.  Help us to see our own sin, not that of others first.  Go with us as we go and stand and speak and heal in your heart name, Jesus Christ.   Amen and amen. 

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