Summary: This sermon but challenges us to think about how we are living as the people of God and how we might shake up our thinking, our relationships, and our communities of faith. . . not just for “shaking’s” sake, but because God is prompting us.
Tonight our theme is REVERBERATIONS…what does it make you think of? Perhaps the younger people in your community who pump up the bass in your neighborhood and shake your windows with their Hip-hop grooves?
Well, hopefully, our reflections on REVERBERATIONS will go deeper than that tonight...not annoying, but challenging...not temporary, but challenging us to think about how we are living as the people of God and how we might shake up our thinking, shake up our relationship, shake up our communities of faith...not just for “shaking’s” sake, but because God is prompting, urging, and calling us to REVERBERATE for His glory!
Tonight’s text is full of challenge…and though the focus verses are Matt. 11:11-15, the bigger context is important here…and before we can talk about the R of Reverberations, I’d like to offer 2 pre-requisite (pre-requitisal?) R’s that set the stage for the final R.
1) repentance : This is the big theme of john the baptist’s ministry….and call to repentance…a call for people to turn their lives around and look to Jesus, who as John put it, was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29, 36).
Repentance is not a new word to us in Christian circles…but a good definition that I read this past week was this:
Repentance = a radical change of mind & heart which leads to NEW LIFE
And it would be pretty safe to assume that we in this room have experienced this repentance to some extent in our journey of following Jesus (note that I don’t want to use the word Christians)…..
But let’s be mindful of the truth that repentance is a continual process. And so I offer these questions to reflect on as we think about what it means to be a people of repentance in today’s culture:
Q1: What are the personal and social sins that we might be called to repent of? (Because it might be these very things that hinder us from making a difference in our relationships and our community!)
I appreciated _____’s example last night….he talked about having a reunion for some of the Seniors in one of their Edmonton neighborhood churches. Now that was not necessarily a social sin….but in a culture that prone to move people out of neighborhoods to homes….that compartamentalizes rather than unites….Howard and the people of God were providing a place for reunion, re-connection and blessing. And I have to believe that in that place of reuniting relationships, the presence of Christ is felt and known….and the people of God have a place where they have earned the right to be heard because they are participating in “good works” in the community and then able to give glory to their God when asked “why are we doing this?”
WE will be known as the people of God as we seek to be a people who are in a journey of repentance…changing our minds and our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit and being taken into places of new life that is born out of confession, forgiveness and HOPE!
Q2: This first question, sometimes leads to a 2nd question….where are how is repentance done? It might be a nice concept, but where is it done?
I think one of the most beautiful and deep places this can happen is at our communion tables in our churches. Once a month….but I hope that it can happen more as it does in a handful of our churches.
I know that in my journey of faith I sin. And I am sinned against. And I am a part of a community and nation that sins…and that is sinned against. And so then when I go to the table of our Lord and celebrate communion, Eucharist, the Lord’s supper….whatever name you prefer to call it…. That place becomes a profound place of holiness and repentance.
And so we should pray and we should confess…..
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
And not only should we confess….but we should hear / offer an absolution. The Anglicans do it right here…..where the priest offers an absolution:
Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins
through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in