Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bishop’s Note: June 16, 2016 – “Your sins are forgiven”

Bishop Eric Menees

Last Sunday’s gospel reading (Luke 7:36-50), which the English Standard Version of the Bible entitled: “A Sinful Woman Forgiven,” tells the beautiful story of the woman in Simon the Pharisee’s home, who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and then anointed his feet with costly ointment. This scripture demonstrates the response of a grateful heart to the forgiving love of Jesus. The question from the gospel lesson is, what does this message mean for us?

Well, as Christians, we need to address sin and the consequences of sin, in our lives and in the lives of others, so that people can come to a place of understanding their need for, and the benefit of, Christ’s forgiveness. Admittedly this is very difficult, for several reasons:

We live in time and age that ignores sin and even celebrates sin.
We live in a world that brands us as being intolerant if we advance biblical morality.
We live in a climate that values false self-worth above all else.

However, precisely because it is difficult to speak about sin, this does not mean that we should not speak about sin:
In our own lives, we should be examining the ways in which we fall short of God’s glory, and then repent.
In our families, we should lift up for our children, and ourselves, a standard of behavior that is based on scripture, not on cultural mores.
In our communities, we should be proclaiming the Glory of God and His willingness to forgive our sins and wash us clean in His sacrifice!

What a great sadness that we live in a world ignorant of sin, but living under the terrible consequences of sin. What a great sadness that in ignoring sin, we deny people, and ourselves, the liberation found in forgiveness. What a great sadness that in denying sin and the forgiveness found in Jesus, we deny the Love and Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let us, this day, resolve to turn that around. As we come to confession in church next Sunday, let us not white wash our sins but truly and courageously offer them to the Lord. Let us truly hear, and receive, the words of Absolution: “Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who in his great mercy has promised forgiveness of sins to all those who sincerely repent and with true faith turn to him, have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Let us come to this altar with clean hearts to receive the Sacrament of Christ’s body and blood. And let us go forward into the world, with grateful hearts full of love, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. And to that I say… AMEN!

I pray you all a very blessed Lord’s Day!

Catechism Questions: 298-300

298. How else do you love God in light of the Fifth Commandment?
I keep the Fifth Commandment in love to God by showing respect for the aged; submitting to my teachers, pastors, and directors; respecting tradition and civil authority; and ordering myself in reverent humility, as is fitting for a servant and child of God. (Matthew 22:15-22; Romans 13; Colossians 3:18-4:1; 1 Tim 6:1-2; Hebrews 13:7,17; Articles of Religion, 37)

299. Will such an attitude of honor come to you naturally?
No. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15). From my earliest days, led and driven by sin, I persistently attempt to rule myself.

300. Does earthly authority have limits?
Yes. All authority comes from God, who is the King of kings and expects me to love, honor, and obey him rather than others if they command me to sin. (Exodus 1:17; Daniel 1:8-16; 3:16-18; Acts 5:29; Romans 13:1-5; Colossians 4:1; 1 Peter 2:14-15)

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