Reflections on how Christians help each other to grow and mature in loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the
crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and
rested on this holy Sabbath, so may we await with him the
coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life;
who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 6:3-11 (NRSV)

We live in a sin-denying culture. Worse yet, we United Methodists, are all too often part of a sin-denying church. I know that in the worship and teaching of the congregation I am part of the reality and destructive power of sin is never mentioned. We are told in worship that we are forgiven but we don’t pray a prayer of confession. I recall a time in an adult Sunday School class when I remarked that all of us, because we are human, are sinners the response was as though all the air had been sucked out of the room. One of my classmates angrily replied, “How dare you call me a sinner.” Most of the class too great exception to my simple declaration of truth.

Which leads me to conclude that we should not be surprised at the state of constant decline of our church. A people who deny the reality of sin have no need of a savior. It’s therefore, no surprise that people flock to Palm Sunday and Easter services and can’t be inconvenienced to walk with Christ through Holy Thursday and Good Friday. People who insist on their inherent goodness and deny on the corruption of sin are essentially telling Christ that he was a fool. That the blood he shed for them on the cross was a tragic waste.

If the crucifixion tell us anything it reveals the magnitude of sin. When we deny this reality we deceive ourselves into eternal death. We remain enslaved to sin through our pride. If we deny our sin we are easily deluded into believing that we are not slaves. We are like the Hebrews who preferred the security of the life they knew in Egypt than the uncertainty of new life as a free people in the wilderness on the way to the promised land.
God defeated the powers of sin and death through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our denial of their reality are a delusion. Only grace can awaken us to who and whose we are (sinners who can become children of the living God).

The good news is that God will not abandon us. His grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is available to all, even to those who are deluded into denying their need of God’s gift of forgiveness and new life. However, this reveals another unfortunate reality of the contemporary United Methodist Church, which all too often is a dispenser of cheap grace.


Blogger John said...

I'm in a Methodist theology class right now and one of the things that I've just realized is that not only are we in a sin-denying culture, but specifically, we are in an original sin-denying culture. Most of us are Pelagians.

6:01 AM


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