|Twenty Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||November 13, 2016||Proper 28, Year C||Malachi 4:1-2a, Ps 98, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-19|
|Charles Sydnor’s sermon, Nov. 6, 2016, All Saints||November 6, 2016||All Saints, Year C||Luke: 6: 20-31|
|Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 30, 2016||Proper 26, Year C||Isaiah 1:10-18, Psalm 32, Luke 19:1-10|
|Twenty Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 23, 2016||Proper 25, Year C||II Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14|
|Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 16, 2016||Proper 24, Year C||Luke 18:1-8, Genesis 32: 22-31|
|Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 9, 2016||Proper 23, Year C||2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c; Luke 17:11-19|
|Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 2, 2016||Proper 22, Year C||II Timothy 1:1-14|
|Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||September 25, 2016||Proper 21, Year C||Luke 16:19-31|
|Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||September 4, 2016||Proper 18, Year C||Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-33|
|Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||August 28, 2016||Proper 17, Year C||Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14|
|Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||August 21, 2016||Proper 16, Year C||Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17|
|Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||August 7, 2016||Proper 14, Year C||Genesis 15:1-6, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Proper 14, Year C|
|Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||July 31, 2016||Proper 13, Year C||Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-23; Colossians 3:1-11, Luke 12:13-21|
|Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||July 24, 2016||Proper 12, Year C||Luke 11:1-13|
|Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||July 10, 2016||Proper 10, Year C||Luke 10:25-37|
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C
Sermon Date:June 12, 2016
Scripture: 2 Samuel 11;26-12:10-13-15, Luke 7:36-8:3
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 6, Year C
"Christ in the House of Simon" – Dieric Bouts (1440’s)
We are now well into the season after Pentecost, a season that some refer to as the green and growing season, both in creation around us, and also, hopefully, in our own spiritual growth.
So how come today we find ourselves keeping company with a bunch of sinners, here in the lectionary readings, no less!
The people who put together the lectionary should have remembered that we good Episcopalians like to keep any sort of focus on sin limited to the season of Lent.
But here we are, on the fourth Sunday after Pentecost, keeping company with King David, who is being publicly called out by the prophet Nathan for committing a sin as complex as a gourmet meal of well-done murder seasoned with misplaced desire as the main dish, served with sides of bloody betrayal and steamy adultery.
Also in our company is a woman known around town as a sinner, who scandalously shows up at Simon the Pharisee’s banquet so that she can wash the feet of Jesus with her salty tears, cover them with passionate, wet kisses, and then slather his feet with an expensive ointment that she pours from an alabaster jar. And she even towels down the feet of Jesus with her hair!
And then there’s Simon the Pharisee himself, that upright, righteous follower of the law and the host of the banquet, who is, at the moment, silently sipping from a chalice sloshing with a drink brewed with disgust for the actions of the sinful woman and distain for Jesus, who could not possibly be a prophet after all, because Jesus doesn’t seem to realize that the woman touching him is a real live sinner.
Chances are that none of us here today has sinned quite so boldly as David, or as dramatically as the sinful woman (we don’t know what she’s done to be considered a sinner, but it must have been something show stopping, given her over the top gratitude to Jesus).
But we probably have more in common than we’d like to admit with that upright and righteous Pharisee, Simon, wordlessly drinking from his cup of disdainful judgment as he watches events unfold at his banquet.
Simon is the sinner in this story who ends up pointing the finger at us and saying, “YOU are the sinner! Because you, too, upright as you are, have also judged others, made assumptions, and lacked mercy in your heart.”
And so we all are sinners. We have committed, we are committing, and we will continue to commit sins both large and small, throughout our lives.
Because after all, sin is part of the human condition. We are all born with an innate capability to sin, as well as an innate ability justify the sins we commit or to deny that we are that sinful in the first place.
Not that we are totally depraved, as Martin Luther taught.
At our creation, God called us good, and we are good, but the story of our salvation in scripture constantly reminds us that even though we are good, we are injured, and we have within us “the germs of all sins,” as Charles Chapman Grafton, who was a controversial and outspoken bishop and leader of the Catholic party in the Episcopal Church in the early 20th century puts it.
The germs of sins have infected us all. And sin has the capacity to stunt our growth as Christians.
In his book, A Journey Godward, Grafton says that (like the Pharisee) many Christians today, “seem to be walking up and down on a level terrace, and ever remaining where they are in the spiritual life, without advancement.”
But this is the green and growing season, and we don’t want to simply maintain our spiritual lives—I hope that we all want to grow!
So that means keeping “sin on the table” so to speak, and to be proactive about managing and even seeking a cure for what ails us when it comes to sin.
Now the way Grafton deals with the sin in his life is to pray about it.
He prays that God will give him “an abiding sorrow for sin, a fear of its little beginnings, and a hatred of all that is connected with it.”
One way we deal with sin every Sunday in our worship is to confess our sins against God and our neighbor by praying together the prayer of confession.
Grafton has this to say about confession. “Confession is not only for the weak, the falling, the sin-stained, but for the soul as it advances in grace. It has been likened to medicine, a remedy for sickness, but it is also health food for the convalescent.”
Health food for the convalescent! The act of confession each week feeds us and helps us to grow in our faith.
Grafton goes on to say that as we come before God in confession, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, “comes seeking us…he comes to find us in our wanderings, to rescue us from the thickets where we’ve been caught, to take us up trembling and with bleeding feet, and in his own arms to bear us safely back to the fold. He comes as the good Samaritan to save us, robbed and wounded and ready to die. But before he bears us to the shelter and care of the Inn he first probes and cleanses our wounds, and pours in the oil and wine, and reconciles us to Himself.”
As we confess our sins, we ask Jesus to tear out those things that have stunted our growth so that our faith can flourish again, so that we once more have the space to grow more fully into who God wants each of us to be.
So every week we confess our sins, and the words of absolution reminds us that God clothes us in forgiveness as we prepare for the heavenly banquet set before us.
Grafton says that “in the Eucharist Jesus summons us to the Banquet of His Love, and by His loving washing of our feet He prepares us for it.”
So today, we come, on our own dusty, torn and bleeding feet, along with the communion of saints, and all the forgiven sinners down through the ages, including David, the sinful woman and Simon the Pharisee, to share the body of Christ, the bread of heaven, and the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.
And it is here at this heavenly banquet that we find God’s everlasting forgiveness, boundless grace, mercy, and healing welcome waiting to fill each one of us.
Resource: “Charles Chapman Grafton” pages 477-482. In Love’s Redeeming Work: The Anglican Quest for Holiness. Compiled by Geoffrey Rowell, Kenneth Stevenson and Rowan Williams. Oxford University Press, 2001.