Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sermon: Epiphany 3B

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Repentance. I think the Christian proclamation has twisted this word into so many knots that it would be unrecognizable to Jesus’ first listeners. And now, the mere utterance of that word evokes strong feelings of shame. At least it does for me.

“Repent!” we hear preachers say. And what they usually mean is “Stop sinning! Change those parts of your life that is putting you in conflict with God. Cut out those impure thoughts and actions and turn to the purity of God’s will. If you want to be close to God then you have to remove anything that gets in the way with your relationship with God.”

I heard that a lot from too many preachers. For me, when I hear that, and if it`s true, I always wonder if I have repented enough. I always worry that there’s something that I’ve missed, that there might be a spiritual blind spot that is keeping me from growing in my faith.

Luckily, in an old prayer of confession, there’s an escape clause. The prayer confesses those sins “known and unknown.” 

However, while we may be forgiven of those unknown sins with a linguistic sleight-of-hand, practically, we are no better off because we cannot change that which we do not know that we SHOULD change. If being close to God and greeting the kingdom when it arrives is dependent on something that I do, than I’m not sure that really sounds like good news. 

As Christians, we tend to...(whole thing here)

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