Opening our minds

This can be listened to here.

Gate Pa – Easter 3, 2105
Psalm                    Psalm 4                                                                        
First Reading:       Acts 3:12-19               
Second Reading:   1 John 3:1-7                
Gospel:                  Luke 24:36-48

What I want to say:
How we understand the words “sin” and “righteousness” shape our understanding of what Jesus was on about and what we are about. So what did Jesus mean by it, what did the gospel writers mean?

What I want to happen:
what do you need to let go of this morning?
            what ideas about sin and righteousness        
how is your mind being opened by risen Christ  in love?

The Sermon

     1.      Introduction:

funeral during week
sang “How great thou art”
struck by one verses
            When I think of God, His son not sparing
sent him to die, I scarce can take it in
that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing
he bled and died, to take away my sin”
I wondered – what is my burden
we sing these words but what do we mean by them
            what is my sin?

     2.      Pretty Important

Sin - it’s a pretty important concept
heart of every reading heard this morning
heart of a lot of what Jesus is on about
            a lot of his conflict with Jewish elite and Pharisees revolves around what is sin
this morning heard
·         John say that “4Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. 7Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.”
·         Peter – invites hearers to repent of their sin
·         in Gospel Luke 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things.
Sin thing is pretty pivotal

     3.      What is sin?

So what is sin and what is righteousness? – ask

     4.      So Confusing

we use the word a lot
actually a lot of debate about what they mean
Just read book on Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio
            Pope Francis
fascinating own right
learnt a lot about Argentinian history
place of Peron over last 50 or so years
recent history Roman Catholic church
            second Vatican council
                        confusion caused orders like Jesuits
                        loss of sense identity
                        importance that people like Bergoglio
            rise Roman curia under Pope John Paul II
            reversal that under Francis and council non Roman cardinals
            rise Latin American Roman Catholic church
                        ½ Catholics world now live
                        now seen as source church for worldwide church cf Europe
            role Benedict played in laying foundations reform and Francis election
Most us see Francis as great man
surprised hear number Roman Catholics not sure about him
            feel spends too much time talking about social issues – like poverty
not enough time on morality
them sin is moral
            about sex – who can have sex with, who can’t, and when
            sexuality – being heterosexual, and only heterosexual
            anti- abortion 
è His focus on poor – living and working among poor just muddies that.
One of my frustrations with times in Polynesia
            youth work in church there
            seemed to me that Christianity had been simplified down to
            no swearing
            not drinking or drugs
            no sex outside of marriage.
Sin had become swearing, drinking and drugs, and having sex out of marriage
– little ironic given how much of all of that I saw happening           
trouble is – often made sin too small
defined it in a way that makes us feel pretty righteous and superior
I don’t swear, drink, do drugs sex outside of marriage
            so I am all good –rightoues
that then colours how we read the passages we heard this morning
what we understand by then
I wonder
            is that what it means
            and are we really righteous

     5.      What did Jesus and gospel writers mean

fair to say that same confusion and range understandings also found in scriptures
see it clearly in gospels
one groups Jesus clashed with a lot over this issue is Pharisees
currently reading book by Kenneth Bailey – spend nearly all life living working in Middle East
sourced a lot translations and commentaries in Syriac – one three main languages early church
            people come out same cultural setting as Jesus and gospel writers
says Pharisees not group like Anglican priests for example
            basically anyone could call themselves one
            no entry requirements or test
            basic passion for adherence – obedience to Law of Moses
elite group within Pharisees – called friends /associates
            clear group involved entry requirements
for them they were righteous
nearly everyone else were sinners
in fact word used sinners meant – people of the land
            people did not know law
            could not be expected obey law
            therefore by definition – sinners
important that they – friends or associates – kept themselves ritually distant from these people
righteous – those kept letter law
            ritually clean
sinners everyone else
WE are in. You are out.
The Messiah was supposed to come for them – the in crowd
but instead this man who claims to be the messiah spent a lot of his time with those who did not keep the law
were not ritually clean
people of low honour
            no social standing
who were seen by some of the elite as essential labour
            used when needed
            discarded and ignored when no
This Jesus honoured them
            blessed them
and in beatitudes named these people as the people of honour in God’s eyes

     6.      Law

what does Jesus do in face of all that
offers new understanding of law
new yoke
used Deuteronomy and Leviticus to summarise law
(or used summary already at play)
Law was all about
loving Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind
loving your neighbour as yourself
For Pharisees, especially the friends/associated
            neighbour was other Pharisees/friends/associates
parable good Samaritan – Jesus redefines neighbour as
including all people of land – sinners
all foreigners – including Romans
even Samaritans

it would seem that for Jesus
to be clear about this
to be righteous is not to be moral
not about being good
about loving everyone with same love and passion Jesus displays on cross
when do that – righteous
when don’t – sinners
who here willing to say love Lord their God with all heart and soul and mind by loving neighbour as themselves?
rest us are sinners

     7.      So what

so what do we do with this
firstly – need to let go of a lot of our ideas about sin and righteousness
Invitation Easter - leave them at cross
in a sense – Jesus died to free us from those ideas
hold us down
limit our vision
too small
actually prevent us from loving God with all our heart and soul and mind
            because they prevent us from loving our neighbour as ourselves
gift of the Resurrection is that we are offered chance to start again
see world afresh
see ourselves afresh
understand sin and righteousness afresh
We are invited by risen Christ to see ourselves and world we live in anew
è have our minds opened to the mind of scripture
            just like disciples – as heard this morning
as I say in pew sheet - have our imaginations shaped by God’s unfailing love.
            We are made in love,
            held in love,
            restored by love.
truly begin to love our neighbour
            all our neighbours
            as we ourselves are loved
what do you need to let go of this morning?
            what ideas about sin and righteousness hold you down
                        prevent you loving god with all your being
                        by loving your neighbour
how is your mind being opened by risen Christ  in love?


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