Easter II – the Gospel of Forgiveness of Sins
“What are you looking for?” Jesus asked his first inquisitive followers. In the Garden before he was crucified, he asked the mob of soldiers and police and religious officials, “Whom are you looking for?”
“Why are you here?” Maybe that’s the way we might put it today.
We come to know God and be known by God. We come to be a part of a community and be known by other people. We come to learn or to watch, to be entertained or led or loved.
Our proclamation is a gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins. That is going to show up in our Gospel reading on Sunday.
As I said this past Sunday that has often been reduced to something like “learning not to sin” which is boring. But think for a moment about what we are aiming for when we say righteousness.
Think about what you would be like if people would describe you as a compassionate, forgiving, courageous, generous, loving person. Think about how at peace you would be if you were those things deep within.
When we become righteous in this this way, we are reflecting the God that made us his own in Christ.
I know that I fall short of those things. Not in public usually, but I often am not all of those things in my heart. So I am seeking to change my heart, to repent. And I trust that God forgives my “missing the mark,” my sin.
I am here to become loving, so I am here for repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
It is pretty simple.
So is that what you came for?
I have to keep working at it myself as I deal with the parts of me that are selfish, forgetful, offended, prideful, fearful, and driven by my own ego. I find, like Paul in Romans, that I am enslaved by my own sin, held captive by my culture, my family issues, my own sinful tendencies, and those of all the systems of sin around me. I am easily ensnared and slow to be free.
Thank God, we have been set free from that bondage by the cross. We can choose. That is powerful. The systems and patters and powers and principalities of your life will not win, are not winning, have never had real power since Christ gutted them on the cross.
So be strong. Be free. Be righteous in the way of Christ. Join us Sunday as we continue to learn to walk in his way in the light of the resurrection.
The Rev. Daniel P. Richards
Christ Church of the Ascension
Paradise Valley, Arizona