Jesus Christ calls us to be a joyful community that celebrates God's love, transforms lives, and is a force for justice in the world.

Sermons on Sin

Relational, Radical, Relentless

Jeremiah can teach us three things about the kind of forgiveness God offers Israel and Judah. And we can learn something about the nature of forgiveness itself, the forgiveness we’re called to practice. God’s forgiveness is relational, radical, and relentless.

Snakes on a Pole

It often takes confronting something head-on—lifting it up, if you will—to get a brutally honest look at the extent of the problem. And it’s a paradox that the path toward healing goes through suffering. The path toward transformation goes through the old ways… not around, over, or beneath, but through them.

Hanging Up Bows

God strikes a covenant here and promises to never again flood the earth. God promises to stay in relationship with humanity (that is still prone to violence and all sorts of evil, by the way) but God’s keeps God’s end of the bargain. And what’s our end of the covenant? To, like Noah, be vessels of peace in a world gone mad. 

A Mirror to Us

This story—the whole story, all parts of it—hold up a mirror to us. In the harsh light, we see the truth of what humanity is capable of. We can see ourselves in Pilate washing his hands saying, “I’m just doing my job.” We can see our reflection in Peter’s betrayal a friend because of fear. We can see ourselves in the other disciples, as they flee; in Mary, who faces the agony of losing a child. We can see our reflection in the fickle crowds who shout “Hosanna!” one day and “Crucify him!” a mere few days later. It’s all there: disloyalty, dodging responsibility, mob rule, persecution, blaming, bloodshed, you name it.

Virtue in the Vice – Greed and Sloth

“Greed is the inordinate love of money and material possessions, and the compulsive behavior that is driven by the need to have more and more of both. The truly greedy person is never content and is willing to sacrifice everything (and everyone) to acquire more… Sloth is more than the cartoon of a couch potato. It’s the sickness of the soul that leads to complete and utter indifference.”

Virtue in the Vice – Lust

So, is Jesus talking about sexual desire in itself? Or about a desire that warps to see another human being as an object to be possessed rather than a partner to be in covenant with? The question becomes, does our desire reflect the love of God or the domination systems of this world? Does it draw us closer to God and one another, or does it drive us away from God and one another?

Virtue in the Vice – Anger

Some in the tradition of Christian thought make an important distinction between anger, which can be neutral, and wrath, which is excessive or misdirected anger, from passion, a normal emotion. I said last week that the sins which make the seven deadlies list has evolved over time: wrath was on the ancient lists, not anger. Passion can be constructive, an intense energy to be harnessed, but wrath can smolder and then start to take over, like a forest fire.

Virtue in the Vice – Pride & Envy

At the core of both these virtue and vice pairs is the question: how aligned are we with God’s love for us? How secure are we in who we are, in that love? Myers quotes a rabbi friend of his who said, “A man who does not love himself will make a casualty of the neighbor sooner or later.”