Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Circle of Lent 3/5: Repentance

Third Sunday of Lent
from Ephesians 4:17-32

• (Recall two weeks ago, idea for sermon series as pictures came into mind illustrating various stages of relationship, including sin, confession, forgiveness, repentance, absolution.)

• First picture, two folks walking. In this picture possibly equals. Maybe married couple, maybe friends, maybe pastor and member. two beings in relationship with each other, walking together in harmony. In unity. Same path.

• God’s desire and design: your life to be in step with God and full and very good. Allow your life to be full and very good by seeking to be in step with God. Remember your purpose and seek to order your life.

• The new picture the people have stopped. The "righteous" one has stayed on the path, and has the opportunity to offer forgiveness, regardless of "sinner's" state. In this picture, the sinner has left the path but has also stopped, in a moment of confession. Both are actions at the beginning of the road to recovery of community.

• Last week (stopping) was before, and this week is the sinner literally turning around, choosing a new direction.

We have one word “repent” in English, and we don’t really use it outside the church. There are at least three words used in scripture, though, and they represent a few different notions that get bunched together in the one English word.

The first notion comes from the Hebrew word teshuva “to turn around”.

Another Hebrew word for repentance is nichan, which has to do with the sorrow that results from sin.

Then there’s the Greek (New Testament) word, metanoia, which has to do with thinking differently after the fact... a change of mind accompanied by regret and change of conduct.

Repentance is a two part action (before and after) of ceasing that which causes sorrow, and choosing a new direction. How? By allowing God. When yielded to God, God can move you. When resistant to God, God cannot move you.
(choice and turning)

• Yielding to God, saying I choose to put behind me the ways that cause sorrow. I choose to embrace the life of Jesus, to learn his ways, practice them, model them and teach them. This is the direction I choose.

Because Jesus lived perfectly and loved perfectly and his perfect life and love covers mine… I want to follow that.

Because in Jesus and through Jesus is the way to shalom, perfect peace & wholeness, harmony.

Jesus is like a magnet, pointing in the right direction. You can take a nail and put it next to a magnet and all its parts’ll point in the same direction – they’ll turn and orient themselves according to the magnet.

In repentance, in discipleship, we allow God to orient us according to Christ.

• Throughout the old and new testaments God declares and desires and empowers change in peoples’ hearts and lives, to choose for their path God’s path and to put the ways of the world behind them.

Without repentance there is no hope for reconciliation.
Without repentance there is death.
Without repentance there is no hope for achieving or living in harmony and unity. 

• With repentance there is hope: (Isa 55:7) Let the wicked forsake their ways, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, for he will freely pardon.

• So you ask yourself, what is your goal?
What direction do you want to go?
With whom do you want to walk?

I want to walk as a child of the light...
I confess that I do not always,
and I repent and I walk with Jesus. 

• From sermon directly into celebration of Communion

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