Sermon for Sunday, June 7, 2015
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
- From the beginning of human disobedience, we have played the blame game: Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent. We are often unwilling or incapable of taking responsibility for our actions.
- And when we DO acknowledge our sinfulness, our disobedience from God’s will, we beat ourselves up and think that we are unworthy of God’s love.
- We doubt that there is One who could love such a one as I. As Luther would say, How can God love me? “Why would you name a church after me? Stinking maggot fodder that I am? Not so my dear friends, let us abolish all party names and call ourselves Christians, after Christ whose teaching we hold.”
- Today we hear of Jesus speaking about the “unforgiveable sin.” As my theology professor in seminary told us, “If you think you have committed that one unforgiveable sin and are so far from God’s love, grace and mercy that you cannot be redeemed by Christ’s death – you most likely have not committed that sin!”
- In previous years when this lesson has been the appointed reading for the day, I have concentrated on what actually IS the unforgiveable sin. But that totally misses the point!
- In our first lesson, after Adam and Eve have eaten the forbidden fruit – they become conscious of themselves and their nakedness. So the cover up – and even hide from God.
- This is the point of sin. When we focus on OURSELVES instead of God – when we become self-obsessed of our condition and even worry about whether God could love such a one as I- THAT is the problem.
- As Luther once said, If humans could focus on God like his dog focused on a piece of meat when it is held in front of him – there would be no sin.
- Sin is not so much a disobeying of God as it is of not being what we were created to be: loved children who are called to love – first God, and then each other.
- We can try to love – we can try harder and harder to be those who love God and focus on God above all things – but we will fail.
- You see, if our focus is even on OUR OWN ATTEMPTS to be what God created us to be – the focus is again on who? Not God, but ourselves.
- So what can we do? How can we keep from losing faith and despair of our situation?
- My colleague Pastor R. Don Wright posted this on Facebook this week, from Luther’s own words (found in Luther’s Works Volume 14:85):
- Learn to sing this little song of the saints, that is, to look away from self and to cling to the hand of God.
- It goes like this: I am nothing. The Lord is my strength. I am stripped of everything, of myself, of all that is mine.
- I can say: Devil, what are you fighting? If you try to denounce my good works and my holiness before God, why, I have none. My strength is not my own; the Lord is my Strength. If you try to prosecute my sins, I have none of those either. Here is God’s strength – prosecute it until you have had enough. I know absolutely nothing about either sins or holiness in me. I know nothing whatever except God’s power in me.
- I love the hymn that we are getting ready to sing. It is short, and its message is quite straightforward – but it is powerful. “For by grace you have been saved and even faith is not your own, it’s the gift of God for you and not the works that you have done. Don’t let anybody boast, for this God’s great gift. Amen!