(these are the notes for this mornings sermon… structure provided by www.creativeprayer.com)
Scripture: Isaiah 6:5-7, 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13
Confession is tricky business. Like King David, sometimes we have to have the injustices we have committed shown to us in a new light before we even understand that we have done anything wrong. While it is easy to point out the failings of others, it is difficult to see the brokenness in our own.
I pray that none of us have committed the kinds of grievances that David did. He was in a position of power and in the minds of many probably used that power to sleep with Bathsheeba. Then when she was found to be pregnant, David tried to trick her husband and then ended up having him murdered. That’s quite a few sins wrapped up in to one big mess!
Because some sins seem so large, because we are here in the church and we know that Christ died for us, sin doesn’t seem to be such a big problem. In part, maybe that’s because we don’t really understand it. It is difficult to accept that even when we are trying to be good; there are areas of our life that remain against God’s ideal for us. We may still harbor lusts, or tell lies, or make hurtful comments to others.
In the S.A.C.C. group on Tuesday mornings we have been looking recently at the 10 commandments. James Moore suggests that instead of saying we have “broken a commandment” we should rather say that we have been broken. When we let greed take over our life, there is nothing about God’s word that comes apart… but our lives do. When we let anger take over our life, God’s word remains firm… but our lives crumble. When we worship false gods and idols, God remains steadfast… but our lives teeter on the unshaky ground that we have chosen to rest upon.
We all have places in our lives where we are not fully living the life God has in mind for us. And as hard as it is to accept our failures, it may be even harder to confess them – to name them – even privately in prayer to God. However, that is what God asks us to do:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Today in worship, we remember that confession is one of those four basic elements of worship. We remember that Isaiah stood before the throne of God and said out loud that he was a man of unclean lips… that he lived among a people of unclean lips.
So we too, need to stand before our God and confess our sins. We will take the next 20 min. in silence to do this in a tangible way. As you may have noticed, there are buckets of sand around the room. When our time of reflection starts, you will go to a bucket, no more than 3 people to each, and you will read the directions for that specific bucket. When you have finished at that bucket move to another bucket and do the same process over again. Keep doing this until I bring us back together here before the cross.
(prayer stations – for specific questions, see the link above)
I want all of us to stop where we are and to hold your bag up with both hands. We each lug around these sacks full of sand and we are weighed down by them. They represent all of the ways that we are broken, and ways that we have broken others. There is nothing we can ever do to repair the damage we have done. Left on our own – we would cry out with Isaiah – Woe is me! for I am lost!
But we are not left alone. The God who has always been with us – always gently reminding us of the paths of righteousness – came down to be among us. God came down to show us how to live and to love… and came down to offer us life and life abundant.
In the gospel of John we hear these words:
48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ 53So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’
Christ came to offer us life and life abundant. Here at the cross, we are invited to set our bags down – to let our sins go – to say out loud like David – “I have sinned against the Lord,” but to also hear the words of grace and mercy and forgiveness. “The Lord has put away your sin… take, eat of this bread, and you shall not die.”
As we sing “Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast,” I want you to think about what it means to say yes… what it means to carry these confessions to the Lord. And then as we continue to sing… and as the music continues to play… carry your sack to the cross and leave it there, and take a piece of bread from the loaf – knowing that all who eat the bread of heaven will have life and life abundant.
Let us pray:
O God, make of every thing and judge of all that you have made, from the dust of the earth you have formed us and from the dust of death you would raise us up.
By the redemptive power of the cross, create in us clean hearts and put within us a new spirit, that we may repent of our sins and lead lives worth of your calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (#353 UMH)